|Photo by Buddy Delahoussaye|
|Ragin' Cajuns head coach Michael Lotief makes the call.|
In an approximately 2,500 word Wednesday feature, ESPNW gives its readership valuable insight into the success of the Ragin’ Cajuns softball program and why it’s able to compete with any team in the country regardless of conference size: head coach Michael Lotief.
It was only the first inning of an NCAA tournament game against Texas, but Louisiana-Lafayette coach Michael Lotief was already out of the dugout to fight what he saw as the good fight.
Louisiana-Lafayette, the overall No. 6 seed in the tournament and one of its more youthful teams, needed to win only once at home to advance to a super regional, while Texas needed to beat the Ragin’ Cajuns twice that afternoon. But even in the sultry heart of Louisiana’s Acadiana region, momentum can snowball out of control at this time of year. In part because two Ragin’ Cajuns outfielders collided in pursuit of a routine fly ball, Texas already had a foot in the door when it appeared to load the bases with two outs after the umpire called a Longhorns batter safe on a close play at first base.
Lotief was on the dirt of the infield to protest before the crowd at Lamson Park fully expelled its displeasure with the call. Tasked first with making sure there wasn’t interference or obstruction as the runner who was already on first base made her way to second, the umpire who made the call didn’t have a perfect angle on the ensuing play at first base.
The initial burst of emotion that propelled him out of the dugout restrained, Lotief didn’t appear to berate or belittle. The man who once opened his own law practice instead made his case.
Two umpires huddled briefly along the first-base line as Lotief hovered a few feet away. When the base umpire signaled that the runner was out, Lotief spun toward his dugout, let out a yell and repeatedly pumped both fists like Tiger Woods after a long birdie putt on Sunday at a major.
Replays made clear that Lotief was right. He will always fight for what he believes is right. The courage of his convictions explains why a program from the obscurity of the Sun Belt Conference remains a perennial national power and why a team that was supposed to be rebuilding this season instead hosts No. 11 Arizona, bluest of softball blue bloods, in a super regional this week.
ESPNW (the cable/satellite network’s brand for sports-minded women) also reports on Lotief’s recruiting strategy, his efforts to ensure females have the same opportunities in sports as males, and what it calls “the quintessential Lotief experience” last year, when the lawyer-turned-softball coach abruptly resigned just before the start of the 2013 season.
Read the feature here.