As softball season grinds on, the Ragin’ Cajuns’ Shellie Landry excels _lowres

Advocate file photo by BRAD BOWIE -- The Ragin' Cajuns' Shellie Landry connects against South Alabama last month at Lamson Park.

LAFAYETTE — With the beginning stages of the season long gone and the excitement surrounding postseason still a couple of weeks away, even Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mike Lotief admits this is a tough stretch for a college softball team.

Senior outfielder Shellie Landry has turned that potential trap into a tool for taking things up a notch. Landry made each home game last weekend against Appalachian State a memorable moment by homering in all three contests in a series sweep.

That recipe for success during the closing weeks of the regular season is not something Landry had in her back pocket from Day 1. It took a few years to find it.

“It’s trial and error,” Landry said. “Your body gets used to it and you develop a good mindset through all of it. You are able to manage it better because no matter how your body feels — if you are tired or anything — your mind is going to tell you otherwise. If your mind is in it, then you are set.”

On top of that, plenty of other variables require adjustments on the fly. A pitching change by an opponent, an injury or a weather delay could come into play at any moment.

That might include a game that ends at 1 a.m., just as an NCAA regional contest against Weber State did last season.

“I don’t feel as if anything is a set plan and life is not a set plan, so it’s not good to prepare that way,” Landry said.

That outlook has contributed to Landry hitting .331 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs while dealing with the wear and tear of the season.

“Shellie has battled injuries in that training room to put her body on the field, just like (first baseman) Kelsey Vincent has,” Lotief said. “Shellie has had to adjust her swing around physical limitations and continue to compete and perform. She’s not just dressing out and going out there. She has been going out there and dominating.”

Along with that knowledge Landry gained during her first few seasons, she has another source of excitement that was not part of her experience as an underclassman. Shellie’s sister, Jaime, is a redshirt freshman on the team.

“It has been a dream come true,” Shellie Landry said. “We both wanted to play Division I softball. It was a big opportunity to have our dreams fulfilled and a bigger opportunity to play for the university in our hometown that has the best fans in the country and supports us and treats us like family.”

Even though the sisters have different personalities, they have plenty of common ground.

“I am more of the quiet one and (Jaime) is more of the life-of-the-party kind of person,” Shellie said. “But we both know how to compete. We both want to be national champions and be the best.”

As the Cajuns continue to strive for that goal, Lotief’s lasting evaluation of Shellie Landry has little to do with any numbers she has put on stat sheets during four years.

“That is setting the tone for the younger kids that this is how you compete,” Lotief said. “Kids that we have that are fighters, grinders and winners, I am most proud of that. Shellie is the epitome of that.”