Cajuns softball notebook: South Alabama played deep into Friday night to advance to Sun Belt title game _lowres

Photo provided by the Sun Belt Conference -- UL-Lafayette catcher Lexie Elkins looks to the dugout during the Cajuns' Sun Belt tournament game against South Alabama on Friday, May 8, 2015.

LAFAYETTE — When Lexie Elkins hits a home run, the realization happens in a handful of seconds.

Her wait time to get behind the plate has usually been a lot longer.

“I had an interest in catching probably when I was about 10 (years old), but the team I was on — that position was already filled,” Elkins said. “As soon as I could get my hands on that spot, I did.”

The Victoria, Texas, native, who leads the nation in homers with 29, had established herself in the catching world ... temporarily.

“In my freshman year of high school, that position was filled again, so I played third base. But yeah. I love the position.”

Elkins waited for her turn, which came when she was at Victoria East High School. Then she stayed behind the plate during a freshman season at Texas Tech before she transferred to UL-Lafayette.

Now she’s a catcher. And an All-American.

“Each year I learn and grow, and I know I still have a ton of stuff to learn about catching,” Elkins said. “Especially because each pitcher is different. They each spin the ball differently, so I am still learning.”

Elkins’ progression as a hitter can be measured by her home run numbers, which have risen from 24 to 29, or seeing her season average go from .388 as a sophomore to her .426 mark this season. The Cajuns coaching staff sees the progress as a catcher come in ways that are more difficult to digest through numbers.

“She really prepares offensively and defensively,” assistant coach Lisa Norris said. “We have been working on (catching) the last two years.”

Senior pitcher Jordan Wallace was not able to attach a specific number to Elkins’ defensive impact, either. But Elkins’ continual effort that has made an impression on her.

“She is a rock back there. She catches all my wild pitches that y’all don’t know about,” Wallace said. “She is really good. She’s always talking to me and helping me keep my focus.”

In addition to the verbal part of catching, Elkins relies on her eyes to pick up tendencies from opposing batters. The search for an advantage is something that she enjoys.

“It’s really fun, especially when you can find a hole (in a swing) that somebody has,” Elkins said. “Our coaches do a good job of that, too, with scouting reports. But if I ever see something, I’ll relay it in during a game.”

Elkins is glad she has been able to make her mark at the plate and behind the plate — because when she thinks about her history as a pitcher, she is happy to keep waiting for another chance in the circle.

“I pitched when I was younger and I was really, really bad at it,” Elkins said. “But I still wanted to be involved and touch the ball as much as I could. So that (catching) was the next best thing.”