LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette softball team had a series to forget last weekend at top-ranked Florida, but coach Mike Lotief doesn’t want his team to have selective memory.
When the Cajuns (32-6, 13-1 Sun Belt) line up against Appalachian State (9-37, 2-16) this weekend, Lotief said he wants his team to come out and have a strong showing after it was swept in Gainesville — but not so his team can put the Florida series behind it.
As is usually the case, Lotief is looking for his team to improve, and last weekend showed his team what needs to be improved.
“When you’re in the performance business, you can’t just focus on the bad,” he said. “You have to take the learning experiences from Florida. People can bring up Florida for the rest of the year — trust me, I’m going to — but it’s not to bring up the negative connotations; it’s to be able to teach and to learn.
“This weekend, as we play the game, we’re not worried about the opponent. We’re worried about getting better.”
Of course, there’s a big difference between Appalachian State and the Gators.
This season has been a mighty struggle for the Mountaineers. They’re getting outscored, on average, by 3.8 runs per game. They’ve got the second-worst batting average (.259) and the highest ERA (7.27) in the Sun Belt.
But those numbers don’t matter in Lotief’s mind, especially coming off a series when his team got swept. What matters to Lotief is that his team finds a way to improve, independent of who is across the diamond.
That means even if the Cajuns come away from this weekend with a likely sweep, Lotief will be disappointed if they do it without getting better.
“If you just put (the Florida series) behind you and show up and play again, and now the script is flipped and you’re the superior-talented team and you just win when you’re superior and the opponent’s inferior, that’s no good,” Lotief said.
Last weekend, the Cajuns had some of their flaws, however minor they might be, exposed against a very good Florida team. Lotief said his team got after it this week improving some of those flaws, and his players get to put it through a test run starting with a Saturday doubleheader.
“That’s what’s important about getting back on the field,” Lotief said. “It’s important to have a good performance this weekend. People say you’ve got to win, but that’s not how we think.
“We’ve got to get out on the field and transfer some of the things that we’ve learned, some of the things we’re trying to make progress on so we can continue to grow and develop as a team.”