LAFAYETTE — Before the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team hits the road for the rest of the season, the players will get a glimpse of past Women’s College World Series success.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (32-5) are set to host Houston (19-23) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lamson Park. The Cougars are led by coach Kyla Hall Holas, who still holds a handful of UL-Lafayette pitching records. She scored WCWS all-tournament team honors for the team that finished third in 1993.
“Kyla is coming to town,” Cajuns coach Michael Lotief said. “Kyla Hall (Holas) is so much a part of the history of this program. She is one of the beloved Cajuns. To see her in the other dugout ... because we have competed against each other for so long, some people forget she is a Cajun.”
The current Cajuns will face a Houston team that has lost five in a row, including a series sweep at Central Florida over the weekend. The Cougars boast a .282 batting average, and four starters top the .300 mark. Julana Shrum hits. 354 and leads the team with nine homers. Junior outfielder Katie St. Pierre is next at .348, Selena Hernandez has a .331 mark and catcher Courtney Klingler hits .309. Klingler’s uncle, David, is the former UH quarterback.
The circle has proved to be a tougher place for the Cougars to find consistency. The team’s ERA is 4.23, and the Cougars have more walks than strikeouts (110 to 109). Houston will have to handle a Cajuns batting order that boasts Lexie Elkins, who is second in the country with 20 home runs.
“Lexie is a stud,” Lotief said. “She has had a good run here, and she is a kid that can hit that quality of pitching (that you see in the postseason).”
Elkins is one of three Cajuns hitting over .400. Elkins is batting. 417, sophomore Haley Hayden has a .402 average and senior Leandra Maly is tops at. 423.
Maly is one of six seniors who will be playing their final home game — weather-permitting. The others are pitchers Christina Hamilton and Jordan Wallace, outfielder Taylor Meaux, catcher Linzey Cifreo and utility player Marie Hoag.
“There is not a bit of difference in the contributions each of those kids made and the impact they have had on our program,” Lotief said. “All six will be getting their degrees. We are excited about that.”
For the Cajuns to reach the point that Houston’s current coach helped them reach in the early 1990s, the contest with the Cougars marks another opportunity to improve.
“I don’t think we are any further along than we expected,” Lotief said.
“We have a lot of work still in front of us, and we have to continue to make some strides if we are going to get where we need to get.”