Photo Courtesy:
Photo Courtesy:


The Sun Belt Conference announced its softball all-conference honorees and individual awards on Tuesday night with eight members of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns being honored.

In addition, junior DJ shortstop was named as the league's Player of the Year, while pitcher Alyssa Denham was honored as Freshman of the Year, and Michael Lotief was tabbed Coach of the Year.

Sanders and Denham, along with pitcher Alex Stewart, outfielder Haley Hayden, third baseman Kara Gremillion, and outfielder Aleah Craighton were all named First Team All-Sun Belt, while catcher Lexie Comeaux and second baseman Kassidy Zeringue were both named Second Team All-Sun Belt.

The Cajuns turned out six first team performers for the second straight season, while  Sanders, Craighton and Stewart earned repeat first-team accolades. In addition, Hayden returned to the first team (selected in 2014 and 2015) and picked up her fourth overall SBC all-conference award.

Sanders' selection as Player of the Year marks the fourth straight season a Ragin' Cajun claims the award, continuing a string begun by three-time winner Lexie Elkins, who won the honor the three previous seasons.

A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Sanders hit a .401, to go along with 28 home runs and 73 runs batted in.

A finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year award, Sanders led the nation in home runs, while becoming one of only five players in the country to hit 20 homers while driving in 70 runs.

Sanders was an obvious choice, pacing the conference in home runs, RBI's, total bases, and slugging percentage, while placing second in hitting.

A native of Alvin, Texas, Denham finished the regular season at 15-2, to go along with a 2.21 ERA. 

The right-hander ranked in the Top 10 in the Sun Belt in wins, opponent’s batting average (.202), and ERA, while being selected as a Top 25 finalist for the NFCA Freshman of the Year.

Lotief was named the SBC's Coach of the Year for the fourth-straight season, and the eighth time in his career, after guiding the 15th-ranked Cajuns to a 42-6 overall record and a 23-1 mark in league play.

You would expect a number of UL players to be honored, as they cruised to the regular season crown, their 4th-straight, and 15th in the 17-year history of softball in the league, and they were.

It's really good to see players like Comeaux, Gremillion and Zeringue, who flew undar the radar, be recorgnized, while Craighton and Hayden were no-brainers.

Stewart had a legitimate argumanet for Pitcher of the Year, going unbeaten in league play this year, while finishing 36-1 over her career. Still, she winds up her career with two First Team selections, as well as one Second Team honor. 

Louisiana, who is taking part in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Troy, Alabama this week, will play their first game on Thursday morning at 10 am.

View the complete All-Sun Belt Conference Team, below:

First Team All-Sun Belt
Devin Brown (South Alabama, Junior, P, Graphic Design)
Alyssa Denham (Louisiana, Freshman, P, Kinesiology)
Randi Rupp (Texas State, Junior, P, Management)
Alex Stewart (Louisiana, Senior, P, Mathematics/Finance)
Ivie Drake (Georgia State, Junior, C, Early Childhood Education)
Haley Hayden (Louisiana, Senior, 1B, Exercise Science)
Kaleigh Todd (South Alabama, Junior, 2B, Education)
Becca Hartley (Troy, Senior, SS, Accounting)
Ariel Ortiz (Texas State, Junior, SS, Management)
DJ Sanders (Louisiana, Junior, SS, Exercise Science)
Kara Gremillion (Louisiana, Sophomore, 3B, Exercise Science)
Aleah Craighton (Louisiana, Junior, OF, Biology/Pre-Med)
Taty Forbes (Coastal Carolina, Sophomore, OF)
Megan Litumbe (Georgia State, RS Junior, OF, Human Learning and Development)
Emily Snider (Georgia Southern, Senior, OF, Accounting)

Second Team All-Sun Belt
Sam Clakley (UTA, Sophomore, P, Kinesiology)
Kinsley Jennings (Georgia State, Junior, P)
Dixie Raley (Georgia Southern, Sophomore, P, Public Relations)
Destin Vicknair (South Alabama, Senior, P, Interdisciplinary Studies)
Lexie Comeaux (Louisiana, Sophomore, C, General Studies)
Aileen Garcia (UTA, Freshman, 1B, Mechanical Engineering)
Sandra Mendoza (UTA, Junior, 2B, Kinesiology)
Kassidy Zeringue (Louisana, Senior, 2B, Exercise Science)
Kristian Foster (South Alabama, Junior, SS, Exercise Science)
Kensey Caldwell (Georgia State, Senior, 3B, Human Learning and Development)
Morgan Brown (Georgia State, Senior, OF, Marketing)
Mekhia Freeman (Georgia Southern, Freshman, OF, Human Resource Management)
Sydney McKay (ULM, Sophomore, OF, Accounting)
Amanda Minahan (South Alabama, Senior, OF, Exercise Science)
Krista Rude (UTA, Sophomore, OF, Education)

Player of the Year
DJ Sanders (Louisiana, Junior, SS, Exercise Science)

Pitcher of the Year
Randi Rupp (Texas State, Junior, Management)

Freshman of the Year
Alyssa Denham (Louisiana, P, Kinesiology)

Newcomer of the Year
Kinsley Jennings (Georgia State, Junior, P)

Coach of the Year
Michael Lotief, Louisiana

More From 97.3 The Dawg