Nobody wants to get swept. The Ragin' Cajuns got roughed up by Florida, but Michael Lotief is using it as a teaching experience.

The Gators got the better of Lotief's Cajuns in all three games in Gainesville, thanks to some scarily good pitching. Instead of sulking, Lotief is making his players pick their heads up.

Head Baseball Coach Tony Robichaux says something along the lines of, "You either win or learn. The only way you lose is if you don't learn." Coach Lotief is stealing his philosophy and applying it to his softball team.

"What this weekend is going to do for our team, I can't stand up here and explain it, but it's going to make us better," Lotief tried to explain.

Instead of trying to tell the fans how the team would learn, he asked for their support and belief.

"Don't give up on this team. Don't label us," Lotief pleaded. "Florida is better than us. They whipped us, but we're going back to work.

Fair weather fans would head for the hills after watching a series sweep, but that's not Cajun Nation. Florida handed the Cajuns a large slice of humble pie, and it would be easy for the fans to get upset. Lotief undertands the folks at Lamson Park would never turn against his players, but he is familiar with the responsibility his team carries as well.

Winning creates expectations. This team is expected to do big things in the postseason and Florida's dominance probably didn't sit well with most of the fan base. Lotief made sure to address them directly.

"They watched and they saw a different team than they expected and I understand it. I take full responsibility for that," Lotief said.

The Gators reminded the Cajuns that the margin of error disappears when you get to the top tier of teams. When you get to Oklahoma City, only teams like the Gators remain. If the Cajuns can learn from their mistakes in Gainesville, it could go a long way at the end of the season.

Associate Head Coach Chris Malveaux wants his team to be one of the last groups standing when the season thins out the competition. He had his eyes wide open against Florida, and he saw the Gators teach them some valuable lessons.

"Anything that we gave them, they took full advantage of," Malveaux said.

Softball is an imperfect game, and Florida reminded them that every mistake matters at that level of excellence.

Lotief and Malveaux tipped their cap to Florida, but they didn't completely bow to the throne, so to speak. They pointed out some silver linings from the storm cloud of the series too.

Alex Stewart held her own against the Gators, giving the Cajuns a chance to win in games one and three of the series. Maybe next time around, the sun shines on her a bit more.

Lotief also called Kara Gremillion's performance "phenomenal." The freshman stepped in at third base for Samantha Walsh before the season even started, and she proved her worth yet again by swinging the bat with confidence against some serious aces. If the freshman comes up with a way to get it done, it only motivates her teammates more to figure out the formula too.

There are only a few weeks left before the start of the postseason. If the Cajuns want a shot at payback, they need to learn every lesson possible from their first run-in with the Gators.

A lot of people believe pain makes you stronger. Lotief hopes his team can convert their losses into lessons and their pain into progress. All you can do is trust the process.


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