LAFAYETTE — University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball coach Mike Lotief’s assessment of Kara Gremillion’s debut weekend was pretty straightforward: Not bad for a freshman.
The 2015 Gatorade Louisiana softball Player of the Year started all five games at third base and had four hits in 13 at bats, including a pair of doubles. She also played error-free ball at the hot corner, going 10-for-10 in fielding opportunities.
It wasn’t necessarily the overall body of work that was truly impressive for Lotief, but her composure when the team needed a big hit. It was a loud out that caught Lotief’s eye in particular.
“In the top of the seventh against Samford, when we had a 1-0 lead, she hit the ball out of the park — and then the girl, because they had a temporary fence, caught it and brought it back,” Lotief said. “How huge was that at-bat? She walked up in that situation like, ‘I’m going to hit this thing out.’
“For a true freshman? Wow.”
And for now, it looks like the Cajuns are going to need Gremillion to keep playing beyond her years.
Lotief said Tuesday that Samantha Walsh, who hit 14 homers for the Cajuns a year ago as the every-day third baseman and cleanup hitter, is probably out for the season with an injury.
“So Kara is the answer right now,” Lotief said. “She’s good. I just loved her presence, I loved her confidence, and I loved the way her teammates made her comfortable. That was fun to watch. They didn’t put any additional pressure on her; they allowed her to be comfortable.”
Senior catcher Lexie Elkins was named the USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week after she launched five homers and drove in 14 runs as the Cajuns went a 5-0 at last week’s Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Though every Sun Belt Conference team has played at least five games, Elkins has more home runs already than all but two entire teams through the first week.
Elkins finished the weekend with a .667 batting average, with a pair of doubles, and is slugging 1.800.
It’s the second time in her career she’s received the honor.
The Cajuns moved up to No. 7 in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25 polls, jumping up four spots from their No. 11 preseason ranking to set up a top-10 matchup with No. 6 Oregon this weekend.
More mercy, please
While he works his way through health issues that kept him from traveling to road games in most of the latter portions of last season, Lotief made a light-hearted public plea for his team to spend more time clobbering opponents for his own sake.
The Cajuns won the first three games of last week’s tournament by run rule in the fifth inning — a 22-4 win against Ball State, a 15-0 win against UAB and an 8-0 win against Southeast Missouri — before having to hold on for a 1-0 nail biter against Samford.
“I’d much prefer the 22-4 games now that I’m getting older and I’ve got all these holes in my body,” Lotief said. “I don’t know if I have a lot more of those 1-0 games in me. I watched how cool and confident our kids were and how it was no big deal to them. But man, I just think I’m getting old. It used to be fun, but that wasn’t as fun.
“My doctor, she told me I need better blood flow to help the rejuvenation of the throat muscles. Well, my blood was flowing for sure. That may be my new form of therapy, those 1-0 games.”