LAFAYETTE — In an alternate universe, destroyer of softballs, Lexie Elkins, is making her Lamson Park debut Thursday in a Texas Tech Red Raiders jersey.
Thankfully for the Cajuns, the only universe they’re aware of is the one where Elkins anchors a potent offense on a top-10 Cajuns team and is well on her way to breaking the school’s all-time home run record.
Of course, she’s on her way to breaking that record — and, if she turns in an unprecedented senior season, possibly the NCAA record — in three years, not four.
That’s because that first year was spent in Lubbock, Texas, with Texas Tech. That year was before she learned the true power of her potential. Or perhaps it was the potential of her power. She was very young, after all.
Young, as in Elkins was 17 years old during the entirety of her freshman season at Texas Tech.
“If you remember, she was a kid that graduated (high school) at midterm and then she started her freshman year in college when she should’ve still been a senior,” said Cajuns coach Mike Lotief, whose team hosts the Red Raiders in a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Thursday at Lamson Park.
Elkins played 47 games on a Big 12 softball team when she would’ve otherwise been roaming the halls of her high school and preparing for senior prom. She hit .282 with 21 RBIs. She started 42 games at catcher, which was the whole reason she was there for the 2013 season in the first place.
“I figured out they didn’t have a catcher,” said Elkins, who crammed as much course work as possible into a tight time frame in order to make it work.
She also figured out that Texas Tech was not where she wanted to be.
Elkins had trouble coming up with the right words to describe why she wanted to leave the Red Raiders’ program. She ultimately settled on feeling that Texas Tech was not a place where she could become the best possible version of herself. She does not harbor any ill will toward the program, however.
“She played and she contributed to that team, and the school and that team took care of her,” Lotief said. “There’s no animosity there.”
She transferred to the Cajuns after her freshman year, and did not have to sit out. Elkins did not hit a single home run in her lone season at Texas Tech, which is both understandable, considering the circumstances, and unbelievable, considering what she’s done since.
In two years and two weeks as a Ragin’ Cajun, Elkins has crushed 64 career home runs. Entering Thursday’s games against her old team, she is 20 home runs shy of setting the Cajuns career home run record and 32 home runs shy of setting the NCAA career record.
For Elkins to reach the NCAA career record, she’d need to break Laura Espinoza’s 21-year-old NCAA single-season record of 37 home runs. With eight home runs in nine games so far, she’s on pace to smack 44 long balls in the regular season alone.
But divining the future is not something Elkins or the Cajuns are interested in. Their mantra, as it always has, focuses on winning the day.
For Elkins to win the day in a doubleheader Thursday against her old mates might be a little sweeter than usual. But first, there’s preparation that must me done.
“We’ll let her sing the (Texas Tech) fight song for us,” Lotief said.
Elkins said she’s working on it and teaching her teammates. It’s pretty easy, she said.
It’s been a couple years since she had to sing it with any sort of pride, but there’s a line that stands out in Texas Tech’s fight song as applicable to Elkins, the Cajun.
“We’ll praise her name, boost her to fame.”