By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Losing highly respected 15-year veteran softball coach Donald Pickett last week was a blow to the Northwestern State athletic department, but his apparent replacement is an eye-opening hire.
Carencro native Lacy Prejean, an assistant coach at the nationally-ranked UL-Lafayette program, reportedly accepted the job Wednesday afternoon.
An announcement by NSU athletics director Kevin Bostian is anticipated as soon as today, with an on-campus introduction of Prejean likely sometime in the middle of next week.
Signs point to Prejean, 42, retaining third-year NSU assistant Lexi Smith, Pickett’s pitching coach who played at Texas A&M.
Pickett resigned last week, leaving a veteran team and returning home to Chattanooga, Tenn., where he will supervise high school softball coaches in a school district, and help run the family farm, he said. He is the winningest coach in NSU softball history with a long list of accomplishments, and in recent years, was invited to get involved with job openings at Memphis and Louisiana Tech, ultimately choosing to stay in Natchitoches both times.
By any measure, Prejean’s hiring is impressive. Media members who cover the Ragin’ Cajuns program conveyed great admiration for her coaching, leadership and interaction with players and program supporters.
Prejean twice competed in the Women’s College World Series as a standout catcher at Alabama, and later was a member of the 2006 USA Baseball Women’s National Team four years after taking part in the USA Softball National Team Camp.
The 42-year-old has served two stints on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ coaching staff, under two different head coaches. Under current coach Gerry Glasco since September 2018, she worked with catchers and instructed the entire defense. From 2005-07 on Michael Lotief’s staff, she helped the Ragin’ Cajuns to three NCAA Tournaments and an overall 149-40 record, and directed and implemented the program’s fall season camps.
Since she rejoined the UL-Lafayette program, the Cajuns have posted a 209-53 record, playing in NCAA Regional finals in each of the full seasons (discounting the truncated 2020 pandemic year) and winning the Baton Rouge Regional over LSU in May. The Cajuns fell in two games at Washington in the Super Regional, one step away from the WCWS.
After her first stay on the UL-Lafayette staff, she returned to Alabama in 2008 to serve as director of operations for two seasons, experiencing two more trips to the WCWS.
In 2009, Prejean came home and entered the private business sector but remained active in softball, including serving as a travel ball coach for Diamond Sports Hotshots from 2014-17.
Prejean earned a bachelor’s degree in business (May 2003) and master’s degree in sports administration (May 2009) from Alabama.
The 2000 SEC Freshman of the Year, she was an All-SEC performer at catcher for four seasons with the Crimson Tide and started all but seven games during her career.
Photo: Courtesy UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajun Athletics