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Softball: Draheim’s Time

UL catcher Sarah Draheim, shown here tagging out Western Kentucky's Brooke Holloway earlier this season, has emerged as the Cajuns' hitting leader during her senior season. 
UL catcher Sarah Draheim, shown here tagging out Western Kentucky’s Brooke Holloway earlier this season, has emerged as the Cajuns’ hitting leader during her senior season. / Paul Kieu/pkieu@theadvertiser.com

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 4, 2013

She hit .222 as a freshman reserve in 2010, .296 as a sophomore in her first full season as UL’s starter behind the plate and .250 in 2012.

That’s a combined .243 in those first three years.

But 33 games into her senior season, Ragin’ Cajun catcher Sarah Draheim is batting a team-high .413 – and lovin’ every minute of it as the hits just keep on coming.

“I guess something just clicked,” Draheim said when asked to explain the improvement that is roughly akin from a C-minus or so to a solid A in the classroom.

“I don’t know,” she added. “I mean, I’ve been working for three-and-a-half years to try to develop my swing.”

And now she’s finally reaping the benefit of all her toil and trouble.

That’s especially satisfying to UL head coach Michael Lotief as he prepares to take his team on the road to meet North Texas for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against the Mean Green that starts with a doubleheader on Saturday.

“Just when I was ready to get rid of her she started hitting,” Lotief joked earlier this week. “Now I’m not so sure I want her to go.”

But seriously folks …

“Sarah is an amazing young lady. Amazing,” Lotief said of the 6-foot-tall Draheim, who played both basketball and softball at Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas – practically next door to where she’ll spend this weekend playing against North Texas in Denton.

“What she means to me and this team – it’s hard, really, to put into words. She has been a selfless kid behind the plate. She’s always been there for her pitchers, and she’s a tireless worker.

“And good for her,” Lotief added, “that the game has rewarded her (for) all the hours and time that she’s put in to try to transform her swing.”

Draheim is 38-for-92 this season with a team-leading nine home runs – already one more than she had all of last season – and a team high-tying 37 RBIs.

Her slugging percentage is .793, tops among all Cajun starters, and is field percentage, with only one error in 22 chances, is .996.

And she was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored last Sunday, when UL beat Florida International 7-5 at Lamson Park to complete a three-game Sun Belt series sweep of the Panthers.

“You can see the work she’s done in the weightroom to get stronger,” said Lotief, whose Cajuns have won four straight and six of their last eight. “Good for her. It’s good when the game rewards her.”

But for Draheim, who helped the Cajuns to a Super Regional appearance last season that ended with a loss at Arizona State and just more win shy of an appearance in the Women’s College World Series, there still is more to be done before she’s finished at UL.

Part of what’s left is to continue helping prepare freshmen Linzey Cifreo and Shyanne McDowell, one of whom may next season assume the spot that’s basically been all hers for three straight years.

Part of it is to help the Cajuns, who lost just six games last season, ready themselves for another postseason run.

And part of it is to refine even further what already this season has come such a long way.

“Now that things are going right, it’s not perfect,” Draheim said of her swing.

“I’m still working every day. I still have a lot of flaws,” she added. “(But) I’m just trying to minimize them, and go up to bat with a good plan and trust it.”