Jul 4, 2022

Happy July 4th! God Bless America, the land that we love, stand beside her & guide her!

Being given the distinction of NFCA/NCAA All-American in college softball is the biggest individual honor awarded in our sport. Being able to coach an All-American is likewise the highest honor of the profession.

Being recognized as an ALL-AMERICAN ATHLETE &/or to an ALL-AMERICA TEAM is a honorific title given to U.S. athletes in a specific sport, in a given year – competing at the collegiate level. Athletes selected to these ALL-AMERICA TEAMS are known as ALL-AMERICANS. These outstanding amateur players are considered the best players for that specific season for each team position.

Some of College Softball’s most famous All-Americans are pitchers: Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman, Monica Abott, Michelle Smith. My wife, Stefni Whitton, was an All-American pitcher at UL, and indeed, the first All-American in the school’s history. Our very first recruit, Brooke Mitchell, was an All-American pitcher. Other famous All-Americans include: Natasha Watley (SS), Stacey Nuveman (Catcher), Catlyn Lowe (CF); Lauren Chamberlain (1B).

In 17 years, I had the opportunity to coach 18 All-Americans. I not only coached these student-athletes, but I got the opportunity to recruit each one of them and watch them play during their high school years, thus watching their journeys of growth, development and their pursuit of excellence.

Each one of these players were exceptional athletes with incredible skills and tremendous ”devotion & discipline” to pursue excellence. We got a front row seat to watch how special and talented each one is.

A true measure of great players goes beyond numbers and statistics. It is something ”intrinsic” that allows them the ability to make those around them better instead of being self-absorbed or consumed with their own individual statistics. Each one of these players lead their teams to championships, sometimes MULTIPLE CHAMPIONSHIPS. Each player and the team they ”lead” competed in post season and heard their team announced in NCAA Regionals brackets EVERY YEAR. Every one played in a SUPER Regional and most all of them played in the Women’s College World Series.

Below is a hand-made photo that I started and updated over many years and that I still cherish. Each one has an unique story and magical memories and a ”village” of support behind them.

This photograph represents every position – 3 pitchers, 2 catchers, a first & third baseman, 3 middle infielders, 3 centerfielders, 2 slappers, 5 corner outfielders and a bunch of home runs.

This photograph represents every year from 2001 through 2017 with the exception of 2007 and 2010. The 2010 made the Super Regionals at U.C.L.A and ironically was the year our coaching staff was recognized nationally.

Put this in perspective. Coach Krzyzewski coached Duke Basketball – 37 All-Americans in 42 years; he was fortunate to coach an All-American in 31 out of the 41 years.

I was fortunate enough to coach an All American in 15 out of 17 years. I got the privilege to notify students-athletes 24 times that they were the best of the best.

5 players received All American honors in multiple years:

  • Becky McMurtry in 2002 & 2003;
  • Danyele Gomez in 2003, 2005, & 2006;
  • Christi Orgeron in 2011 & 2012;
  • Lexi Elkins in 2014, 2015, & 2016,
  • Aleah Craighton in 2016 & 2017. (Note: both Aleah and D.J. Sanders were named All Americans in 2017 which was their junior seasons and each played the 2018 season (their senior seasons) at Arizona & Oregon respectively.

Below is the list of top 100 home run leaders in NCAA History:


To read more about some of the magical moments go to TOP CAJUN HITTERS on this site.

Lastly, one fun fact: each of these All Americans had some of the same experiences and shared similar “things”, but they were all unique and different evidenced by their different jersey number.


About the Author

Mike Lotief coached 17 successful years as either the head softball coach or co-head softball coach with his wife Stefni Whitton Lotief at the University of Louisiana from 2002-2017 with an overall coaching record of 731-176 (80.6 winning percentage). Every season, the Ragin Cajuns softball team advanced to the NCAA tournament and also advanced to three (3) Women’s College World Series (2003, 2008, 2014) and from 2012-2016 advanced to five (5) straight NCAA Super Regionals. Coach Lotief produced over 40 All American selections and his 2017 team lead the nation in scoring and was ranked in the Top 10 in home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage.

The coach is a cancer survivor (twice) and was the first person in the U.S. to receive the Pro Trach device. Mike and Stefni spearheaded and raised the funding to build the new softball stadium in 2009 and the new softball indoor hitting facility in 2015. They are proud parents to Chelsea, who played softball and graduated from the Univ. of Louisiana in 2018, and Andrew, who is a junior at Louisiana studying Mechanical Engineering.

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