LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette softball team still has yet to give up a run through four games.
Alex Stewart, Jordan Wallace and Kylee Jo Trahan combined for 11 strikeouts in five innings Sunday in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 9-0 win over Eastern Illinois. Coach Michael Lotief said his team’s pitching performance this weekend was “very impressive.”
“Alex was really good,” he said. “Her stuff was dominant. Kylee had to go through the freshman jitters, but she came out looking pretty good. Jordan, coming off the injury, I don’t know if I expected her to be as good as she was. Every year, we talk about having a staff. This year, the injuries are forcing us to do it, and I think we are going to like what ends up happening.”
The offense has started strong, too, as the Cajuns posted three of their four wins this weekend via the run rule. Sunday’s game featured two more home runs — one from Shellie Landry and one from Aleah Craighton.
Landry and Craighton each have two home runs on the season. Craighton, a true freshman from Dutchtown High, said playing at Lamson Park is “really fun,” and she said she feels no pressure in front of the raucous crowd.
“There is never pressure from anyone,” she said. “We just trust in our preparation. We were ready, and I just trusted what Coach Mike said. (Playing at Lamson) can be nerve-racking at first, but you just take it in and then it’s fun.”
Lotief said playing a slew of freshmen like the Cajuns do will present growing pains, but he said the contribution the freshmen gave over the weekend was pivotal.
“Aleah was big time,” he said. “She had a great weekend and, if she is going to do that in the heart of the lineup, we are getting ready to have some fun. D.J. (Sanders) played good defense but has to improve offensively, and Kelli (Martinez) did a great job. We got solid contributions from all the freshmen.”
The Cajuns play their first 14 games in front of the home crowd at Lamson Park. It’s an obvious advantage, but Lotief said the players can’t rely on the crowd to make them better.
“It is good to be at home, but we need to go to work to be where we want to be,” he said. “Instead of sugar-coating it, I won’t dig deep to nitpick. They’ll see it.
“Look, I am proud of these kids. What showed this weekend was that our preparation was solid. We were better prepared than our opponents this weekend. As we move into the middle of the season, that advantage is going to go away. We’re going to have to get better.”