UL senior Lexie Comeaux and Ragin' Cajuns head softball coach Gerry Glasco, shown here celebrating an RBI from Comeaux at last year's NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, have developed a special respect for each other over the past two seasons.

It likely began long before UL-Lafayette senior softball utility standout Lexie Comeaux ever realized it.

But that didn’t diminish the incredible feeling it gave her when she actually heard it come out of Ragin' Cajuns coach Gerry Glasco’s mouth for the first time.

When discussing roles on his No. 13-ranked squad, Glasco made it clear how important it was to him to find a role for Comeaux this spring out of respect for her commitment to the program.

“There’s just no better team player than Lexie Comeaux,” Glasco said after Monday’s doubleheader sweep of Cal. “She’s done every thing we’ve asked her to do. She’s willing to sit on the bench if we ask her to. She’s played every position for it. She gives great leadership in practice. She’s a great student, a great person. We’re unbelievably blessed to have Lexie Comeaux in our dugout.”

So imagine Glasco’s delight, and relief, to see Comeaux get off to just a great start to the season. Comeaux is hitting .462 with three homers, eight RBIs and an incredible 1.385 slugging percentage during the Cajuns’ 6-0 start.

“Lexie Comeaux, great senior leader,” said Glasco, whose Cajuns will open play in the Louisiana Classics at 4 p.m. Friday against Jackson State at Lamson Park. “We’re just so lucky to have her. I was thrilled to see her get that big hit (two-run single in 7-3 comeback win over Cal on Monday) for us. She deserves it. I was really proud of her.”

When asked how much it meant to her to hear Glasco publicly give her such a glowing endorsement, Comeaux could only smile and choke back the tears.

“It means more than anyone will ever know,” Comeaux said. “I have so much respect for him, his family and what they’ve brought into my life. For a man of his character, his values and who he is to have that much respect for me means the world to me and I will cherish that for the rest of my life.”

There’s also plenty of relief in Comeaux’s reaction as well.

Truth is, she had no idea if there would be a role for her coming out of her first fall under Glasco.

“In the fall, I stunk … bad,” Comeaux said. “My mindset kind of flipped to, ‘Ok, it can only go up from here.’ I had a sense that he didn’t want to use me much, because I wasn’t that clutch hitter, clutch senior that he thought I was going to be.”

Simply put, Comeaux has put far too much pressure on herself to produce.

While many praised her for her part in keeping the program successful in going 41-16 and reaching the NCAA Baton Rouge regional finals, despite all the preseason controversy after the firing of longtime coach Michael Lotief, Comeaux just didn’t feel like a success entering the fall.

“I felt so much pressure,” Comeaux said. “I put all the pressure from the year because we didn’t win a championship, we didn’t do what UL normally does, we just coasted, so I was pressing way too hard and putting way too much pressure on myself and didn’t trust my teammates.

“I made everything too big, instead of just breathing and staying the same. I didn’t need to do that.”

The truth is Comeaux had earned more confidence from Glasco with her leadership in keeping the 2018 club together under so much off-the-field uncertainty and her production in the batter’s box down the stretch.

Despite having a subpar season at the plate, Comeaux delivered mightily down the stretch. In the NCAA Baton Rouge regional, she hit .438 with two home runs and five RBIs.

No matter how much of that goodwill was spoiled by her disappointing fall season, Comeaux wasted no time making a good impression once preseason scrimmages began in January.

“When we started scrimmaging, I hit like three home runs in the first three,” she said. “Then it was like, ‘OK, I think you’re ready to be that kind of senior that I need in the lineup.’ It was kind of an unspoken thing, but to hear him say it, it felt good.”

Then just before the regular season was about to begin, Comeaux’s leadership became important for Glasco again when the community was shocked with the tragic news that his daughter and assistant coach, Geri Ann, was killed in a Jan. 24 traffic accident.

“I’ve never lost anyone close to me, ever, in my life, and I’m very thankful and grateful that I haven’t,” Comeaux said. “This is a new experience for me. I didn’t know how to deal with it and that caused me to just fall into my teammates. We all just kind of leaned on each other and that made us so much closer. I never really had to be a leader.

“We all just leaned on each other. Each person was there for everyone else. Whoever was around was there for that person if they needed it and it didn’t matter who you were. We were all one, because we felt the same kind of pain.”

Through that emotional process, Comeaux’s admiration for Glasco grew even more.

“He’s been the rock behind it all, which is just crazy to me,” she said. “He makes sure we’re OK all the time. We all just kind of have each other’s backs, and I think it’s showing up on the field. I’m really glad about that because we all love and care about each other so much and we all love G so much. This is all for her. We don’t say that, but we all know and I think that’s the coolest part about it.”

So don’t expect Comeaux to complain if she’s playing left field one game and then maybe catcher or designated player another game. For that matter, even if she’s not in the lineup at all.

She, Glasco and this team have just been through too much to fret over being a utility player after being the every-day catcher in 2018.

“No, I’m actually loving it,” Comeaux said. “I love this team so much, and I trust every single one of them that I don’t care where I am. I don’t care if I’m DP; I’ll go play anywhere I need to play, as long as I know I’m the best option. Because if I’m not, I just want to contribute.

“Lately it’s been being DP and cheering people on and making sure the dugout is on the runners, and I love it. I’m having the time of my life.”

Follow Kevin Foote on Twitter, @FooteNote.