LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette’s Lexie Elkins — the NCAA softball leader in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage — will be on the shelf for an unspecified amount of time as she recovers from a thumb injury.
The message from her coach Monday was that good will come from this — both for Elkins, who was in the midst of chasing national and team home run records, and for her team, which holds a one-game lead in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Pain, suffering, injury — it’s a blessing; it’s not a curse,” coach Mike Lotief said. “If you’re chasing records and power and records and arrogance, I guess we’ve got a problem here. That’s never been the journey that we’ve been on. That’s never been the journey we will be on as long as I’m associated with the program.
“If the fact that she’s injured makes us not win another game, so be it. It’s not the end of the world. We’re going to learn from it, we’re going to get better and we’re going to grow from it. We’re not chasing arrogance and power; we’re chasing humility and mercy. She’s going to learn from this, as are we.”
Elkins did not play in the Cajuns’ three-game sweep of Texas State over the weekend. Freshman Brittany Nollkamper played in her place and finished the weekend 0-for-4 with a pair of walks and three strikeouts.
Elkins injured her left thumb in an off-the-field accident. Lotief said Monday he did not know a timetable for her return, but a school news release set her recovery at four to six weeks.
“Obviously she’s going to have a surgery,” Lotief said. “I guess we’ll have to see how that’s going to go. Once they get in there and they do it, then you have to see how that goes. Then you have to see how her body accepts or rejects it, then different people recover differently.
“That’s the worst place to have an injury if you’re a catcher, on your receiving hand, then if you’re a power hitter, on your bottom hand.”
Elkins has been the driving force for an offense that ranks in the top 10 nationally in hitting (.349), slugging (.661) and scoring (8.3 runs per game).
Despite missing this weekend’s series, she leads the Cajuns in nine offensive categories. She is 11 home runs shy of passing Danyele Gomez’s school record of 83 career home runs.
“I’m not going to get up here and fool anybody,” Lotief said. “Everybody knows how good that kid is. She’s phenomenal, and she’s having a phenomenal year. It is what it is.
“We’ve got plenty of time two months from now to talk about the impact it’s going to have on this team and this season, but right now it doesn’t matter. It’s an exercise in futility.”
Stewart honored by SBC
Cajuns pitcher Alex Stewart allowed just four earned runs in 27 innings in the circle last week, and she became the fifth Cajuns player to earn Sun Belt Player of the Week honors this season.
Stewart started in the circle for four of the Cajuns’ five games, including both halves of a doubleheader at Baylor. She went 3-1 while striking out 24 batters.
Stewart was phenomenal in a pair of starts against Texas State, striking out 17 while allowing just eight runners. She had a complete game in both wins.