It’s not the food.
At least in the mind of UL head softball coach Michael Lotief, to say that local cuisine is the best thing about Cajun Country is a shortsighted view.
“It’s the heart,” said Lotief, who returned to his weekly press luncheon Monday after taking a short stint away from his No. 9-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns due to a hospital stay.
“The Cajun people know how to love. They know how to party. They know how to work. And their capacity to love is crazy.”
Lotief returned to the dugout at Lamson Park this past weekend for the first time since missing the Texas State road trip March 28-29 in San Marcos.
Lotief offered some basic details of his treatment. The problem with his esophagus resulted in aspiration pneumonia in his lungs. Last week’s procedure was to “take care of the pneumonia.”
Lotief said he’ll now have a surgery Friday “to take care of the esophagus.”
The softball coach then went from doctor to theologian to part-time comedian.
He said he was smart enough to know that there’s always a possibility of not making it out of surgery and that he was “at peace” with that.
“This might be my last press conference,” said a mostly joking Lotief, whose medical issues began way back in 1983 with carcinoma of the nasopharynx. “The next time I see you might be up there (pointing upward).”
Lotief quickly joked that not everybody in the room would be going upward.
“I feel good,” Lotief said in describing the results of his first surgery. “I’m operational. I can function like this.
“My voice is better. My esophagus is not fixed.”
Lotief said how long he’ll be out after Friday’s surgery depends on “what he finds.”
What doesn’t appear to need any major surgery is his Cajun softball team, coming off an impressive doubleheader sweep of No. 13-ranked Baylor. First, UL won a pitchers duel 3-1 and then exploded for 12 runs in the fifth to win 12-2 in the second game.
“This past weekend was crazy fun,” Lotief said. “The two games were two different tales with two different takeaways.”
Lotief said the most long-lasting impression was his offense only getting two hits in the 3-1 win, suggesting UL’s hitters need a few minor tuneup visits to the bat doctor.
“(Baylor starter Heather) Stearns did a good job of exposing our hitters,” he said. “If we’re going to get where we want to go, we’ve got to learn that lesson and change it.
“In the second game, we were able to get into their bullpen, and our hitters got to have a little fun. I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of an inning like that.”
The Cajuns are scheduled to play their final home game of the regular season at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Houston, before heading to Appalachian State for a noon doubleheader Saturday and an 11 a.m. single game Sunday.
“I feel good,” Lotief said. “I had a lot of energy (during weekend series and practice Sunday). I sat through the doubleheader. I yelled. He (doctor) told me not to, but I did. I had fun.”