How Many UL Softball Players Will Be Named To All-SBC Team?
The postseason is upon us, and the 2017 All-Sun Belt Conference team will be unveiled on Tuesday night.
So how many members of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team will be named to the team?
Obviously, there should be quite a few, as Louisiana ran away with their 4th-consecutive regular season crown, including their 15th in the 17-year history of softball in the league, going 23-1 in league play, while finishing the regular season at 42-6, overall.
Let's get the obvious out of the way first; DJ Sanders will not only make the team, but will unquestionably be named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.
The junior shortstop led the league in home runs (28), runs batted in (73), runs scored (68), total bases (149), and slugging percentage (1.088), while finishing second in batting (.401).
Sanders should be a unanimous pick for the honor.
Aleah Craighton, the Preseason Player of the Year, should be a first-team selection, after hitting a .355, to go along with 16 homers and 47 runs batted in.
A junior outfielder, Craighton paced the league in on-base percentage (.556) and walks (46), while finishing second in runs scored (60), third in slugging percentage (.806), tied for third in homers, and tied for 4th in RBI's.
Haley Hayden should be on the first-team, whether it's at first base, outfield, designated player, or utility.
A senior, Hayden finished the regular season ranked 6th in hitting (.387), tied for 7th in homers (12), and second in RBI's (55), while also ranking third in runs scored (58), fourth in on-base percentage (.479), and 6th in slugging percentage (.710).
Hayden has been overlooked over her career, and it's time she got her just due.
Sanders, Craighton, and Hayden should be locks for the first-team.
Sophomore third baseman Kara Gremillion finished the regular season with a .477 on-base percentage, to go along with 30 RBI's, something not too many leadoff hitters can say. Those numbers, along with her spectacular defense, would be enough for me to vote for her, but I've seen her play every game, and know how valuable she is.
Kassidy Zeringue quietly had a really good year. The senior second baseman finished 4th in the league in hitting (.393), and played incredible defense.
Granted, there are some really good catchers in the league, but Lexie Comeaux deserves consideration, after hitting a .347 with 9 homers and 45 RBI's.
Who would have guessed that Comeaux, a sophomore, would reach those numbers back in the preseason?
Too bad defense isn't thought of as highly as it should be, otherwise junior outfielder Kelli Martinez would be a lock.
The are some outstanding outfielders in the conference though, including two playing to the left of Martinez.
My guess is that Sanders, Craighton, and Hayden make the first-team, with Gremillion and Zeringue getting honorable mention honors.
Texas St. pitcher Randi Rupp is going to get some votes for Pitcher of the Year, and that's understandable, after leading the league in wins (25), ERA. (1.05), and strikeouts (287). That's pretty impressive. But Alex Stewart went 15-0 in league play, and finished her career an incredible 35-1 in league play.
Am I biased? Sure. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong.
Stewart with a better winning percentage than Rupp, along with a better conference record, and a better conference ERA.
Using those arguments, I'd vote for Stewart for Pitcher of the Year.
That being said, I think Rupp will get the honor.
Alyssa Denham went 15-2 in the circle, to go along with a 2.21 ERA. She deserves consideration for the second-team, as well as Freshman of the Year.
As for Coach of the Year; come on! Michael Lotief guided a team, one that was looking to replace 63 home runs that it lost from graduation last year, to a near-perfect league record. Case closed.
Coaches get tired of voting for UL players year after year, and will look for reasons not to vote for them. It's not an anti-Louisiana thing. It's been going on in every sport, college and pro, for decades.
Voters found reasons not to vote for Willie Mays in baseball, and for Michael Jordan in basketball.
It's just human nature. You get tired of voting for the same individual or team every year.
It would be silly not to put at least four UL players on the first-team however, with one or two more being placed on the second team.
The Cajuns were just too good this year, and the numbers that a few of the players put up are just impossible to overlook.