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Softball: Shellie Landry explodes during junior season

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, May 21, 2015



UL’s Shellie Landry, shown here connecting on a triple during the Cajuns’ NCAA Regional win over Weber State, has provided the pop at the top of the batting order that was expected from her this season.(Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)


There’s almost no way to accurately describe how much more uncluttered Shellie Landry’s mind or unburdened her heart is this season compared to a year ago.

As great as the team’s achievement of reaching the Women’s College World Series for the sixth time was, it was largely a troubled campaign for the former St. Thomas More standout personally.

At the plate, Landry’s power numbers dropped, while her patience improved. After hitting .284 with 16 homers, 61 RBIs and a .327 on-base percentage as a freshman, she hit .287 with five homers and 39 RBIs last year with a .376 on-base percentage.

In the field, she was playing a new position in rightfield that she wasn’t as familiar with.

Off the field, things were really serious with her family battling her mother Debby’s cancer treatments.

So much has changed this season, however, as Landry and the No. 11-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns prepare for the road NCAA Super Regional starting at 1 p.m. Friday at Auburn.

Her mother, and the rest of her family, are still there for every one of Shellie’s game cheering as enthusiastically as anyone, but without the constant concern of Debby’s treatments and recovery.

"It’s a great feeling," Landry said. "Last year was really tough. I did my work (in softball), but I was constantly worried, ‘Do I need to rush home to see her?’

"Our family is so close. We’re all enjoying this season so much. I’m just super blessed that my family is able to be at every single game of my college career."

And apparently the clear mind, the happier heart and one more year of college experience have all done wonders for Landry at the plate as well.

So far, Landry is hitting .380 with 20 homers, 57 RBIs, a .485 on-base percentage and a .843 slugging percentage.

"Yes, this is pretty much the season I was hoping for," she said. "But I’m not there yet. My goal is to be an All-American, so the work is not done.

"I made All-Region and that was nice, but just like Lexie (Elkins) said over the weekend, it’s all because of hard work and everything our teammates have done to help us. We couldn’t have done it without them."

UL coach Michael Lotief heads the list of those happy to see Landry’s success and not the least bit surprised by it.

"I had a feeling the more experience Shellie got seeing top quality pitching, the better she was going to become, because physically she has the tools and right mindset," Lotief said.

In fact, there may not be a bigger fan of that mindset than Lotief.

"Watching Shellie in the box, just watching her at-bats is a different experience," he said. "She’s very intense, very focused. You can just see the determination, you can see her will to win. She has that for every at-bat. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to experience. Shellie’s one of the best hitters in the country. There’s no question about it."

Indeed, there’s an understanding between Landry and Lotief that perhaps he doesn’t have with many of his other players. After what Landry’s family endured last season, they can identify with the medical issues in the Lotief home this season.

"We understand each other," Landry said. "We’ve talked about it and we’ve learned that all of that adversity makes you a stronger person."

Lotief said he certainly drew inspiration from the Landry family’s strength.

"Shellie is extremely close to her family," he said. "That’s the center of her life. Last year was very hard on her. The way that family handled last season was very inspirational, but it wasn’t a surprise to me. Debby, like Stef (Lotief), played when it wasn’t cool to be a female athlete. They played for the love of the game, with pure motives.

"That family is so competitive. Debby competed against cancer, that whole family did."

Lotief also had to teach Landry how to properly funnel her incredible intensity into being a more supportive and encouraging leader.

"That (being sensitive leader) is a little out of character for Shellie, because her will to win is so high," Lotief said, "but she had to understand that she had to get others around her to compete just as much as she does."

Landry said she felt like she’s been a leader her whole career as normally the top performer on each team growing up, but she learned a lot last season when senior second baseman Natalie Fernandez put her arm around her last year and told Shellie, "I need more from you."

"I had to learn that not everybody around me grew up the same way I did, being from such a competitive family," Landry said. "I had to relax and give them the benefit of the doubt."

Also making this junior campaign a great thrill for Landry has been the return to leftfield.

"I’m definitely much more comfortable in left," she said. "I’m more used to the angles there and there’s more action in left."

One change that Landry has learned to love is the switch to the No. 2 spot in the order.

"At first, I was kind of worried about it," Landry said. "Now, I think it’s great. I like the idea of setting the tone for the game. If Haley (Hayden) gets on, great, I can help her set the tone. If Haley doesn’t get on, then she can trust me to have her back."

Nothing, though, will truly satisfy Landry until she helps the Cajuns win the national championship. To do so this season, the Cajuns must figure out a way to win at Auburn this weekend.

It will be Landry’s second Super Regional as a visitor after going to Michigan as a freshman.

"That trip was a learning experience," Landry said. "If you don’t have the right mindset and you’re not thinking about the right things at all times, you can easily lose focus on the game. You’re going to be hearing all kinds of things. You have to have the right mindset and stay focused."

Super Regional


UL at Auburn

All games at Jane B. Moore Field


UL (41-10) vs. Auburn (52-9), 1 p.m. (ESPNU)


UL vs. Auburn, 11 a.m. (ESPN)


UL vs. Auburn, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

x — If necessary