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Cajun softball fans stoked for World Series

UL faithful say Lotiefs’ softball squad are ‘role models’ for female athletes 

Bruce Brown • bbrown@theadvertiser.com • May 29, 2008  

There may have been another Brooke Brodhead on the field Wednesday night. Or another Donna Bourgeois in the making. Or a budding Ashley Brignac. 

Only time will tell, but the teams meeting at Scott Park in the Lafayette Recreation and Parks Department fastpitch softball league’s 11-12 division owe much of their lineage to Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns.

Brodhead and Bourgeois are both Teurlings Catholic graduates, and so are products of just such a contest as Wednesday’s meeting between the Scott Wildcats and SLYSI Braves.

High School All-American Brignac teamed with fellow freshman Bourgeois to pitch the Cajuns into the Women’s College World Series, starting with a noon matchup today against No. 1 Florida.

The consistent success of the UL program gives young female athletes a standard to emulate.

"It’s such a boost for our area to have them in the College World Series," Scott coach Karen Smith said. "My daughter (pitcher Kami) roots them on. We were listening to the game when they played LSU. And, when they made it to the World Series, all the girls were excited. They came running into the dugout saying, ‘They made it!’

"It’s good for softball as a whole."

Kami Smith was possibly the smallest player on the field Wednesday, but her unflappable demeanor in working out of a jam would make Bourgeois or Brignac proud.

"I haven’t been able to go to a game this year," Kami Smith said. "But I follow them. We were listening to their game the other day. It was awesome. I look up to Ashley Brignac.

"My dad (Acadiana High coach Kevin Smith) teaches me, but we’ve also worked with one of the girls at UL."

The diminutive Smith chalked up her team’s seventh win against three losses with Wednesday’s 6-1 triumph.

As much as UL has shown players how to play the game, they have also made their mark away from the field.

"They’re definitely role models," Karen Smith said. "In their program, you have to do well in class, as well as on the field. It’s not athletics alone. You have to have your education, too."

One of Scott’s own, Monique Prejean, is living the College World Series thrill this week in Oklahoma City.

"This morning was a great start to an exciting week," Prejean said. "I woke up early to have breakfast with my mom and sister, which would normally not be a big deal except I have not seen Lacy since Christmas. Just the feeling of getting to be at the World Series is wonderful but also being able to share it with my entire family is even bigger."

That family connection can work both ways. Prior to UL’s trip to the WCWS, co-head coach Stefni Lotief was on hand at Scott Park on Monday night as her daughter Chelsea’s team outscored Scott.

"We lost to them, and Stefni was here," Karen Smith said. "Kami was crying because we lost the game, but Stefni talked to her and comforted her. She said, ‘You know how many times I’ve cried?’ She was very encouraging."

Lotief, UL’s first softball All-American, knows there will be other days to shine.