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Softball: Bertucci remains red hot

Dan McDonald

The University of Louisiana softball team’s eye-popping offensive statistics took a dip last weekend, not unexpected since the Ragin’ Cajuns were facing many of the nation’s best teams and best pitchers.
But while the Cajuns were hitting .157 in their five games at the nationally-known Judi Garman Invitational, Lacey Bertucci kept rolling right along … thriving at the plate against a series of world-class arms.

The junior first baseman hit .400 in the tournament, and put on a display of power hitting that had tourney observers buzzing. She had four home runs, three of them in one day, and accounted for eight of the team’s 19 runs during the event.

“Some people didn’t get it done, but everybody’s not going to be on the stick every day,” Bertucci said. “I didn’t do anything differently than anybody else. I’ve just been working hard and it paid off.”
In the Cajuns’ final two games in the Garman meet, teams were openly pitching around her in the lineup, and she’ll probably get some of the same treatment Friday through Sunday when UL travels to face No. 2-ranked Arizona.

But she’ll have a different mind-set than in previous meetings with the storied Wildcat program.

“I had to face (UA All-American pitcher Alicia) Hollowell as a freshman,” Bertucci said. “I was just a baby … my knees were weak. It was like she’s an All-American. Now it’s like that’s nothing. I’m much more matured mentally, and I’ve got a lot of confidence right now.”

That confidence isn’t unwarranted. The Covington High product takes a .422 batting average into Friday’s opener in Tucson, Ariz., and had 13 homers among her 35 hits along with 38 RBIs. Even though UL’s well short of the halfway point of its season, she’s getting close to her 16-homer and 46-RBI totals from last year’s All-Sun Belt Conference season.

Not that she’d know.

“I never look at the box score or the stats,” Bertucci said. “I don’t want to know what my batting average is or how many home runs I have. I just want to go out and play ball. What I want to do is win.

“I don’t think we have anyone that looks at the stats. If you do that, you start getting into your own head and we’re not about that. We’re not going to do anything that may have a negative effect on us.”

The Cajuns take a 23-3 record into the weekend series, which will be followed by six home games in a four-day period against McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Bertucci said that her team’s preparations for all those games will be very similar.

“We don’t prepare differently for when we’re playing Arizona or McNeese,” she said. “Physically we do some different things to get ready for different pitchers, but mentally we prepare the same. We’re always going in to play against ourselves and to try to play to our own standards and play up to our potential.

“We don’t know what our potential is because we haven’t reached it. Teams like Texas with (All-American pitcher Cat) Osterman, they’re not going to get any better. We’re going to get better. We learn every day … that’s what we tell ourselves every day at the start of practice, and I don’t think many teams can say they do that as much as we do.”

Originally published March 22, 2006