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Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns

Cajuns litter the All-Louisiana Softball team

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LAFAYETTE – Eight members from the 14th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball team were selected to the 2017 All-Louisiana Collegiate Softball Team, with six of them landing on the first team, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) announced Saturday evening.

The Ragin' Cajuns six first team All-Louisiana honorees led all state schools, the total representing the most for the program since seven first teamers in 2012. It's the 10th straight year that the Ragin' Cajuns topped the charts in first team All-Louisiana selections.

First team NFCA All-American and Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year DJ Sanders was rewarded for her career-best output on offense as she was voted the state's Hitter of the Year. The junior shortstop hit a team-and career-best .388 with career-high totals in home runs (29) and RBI (82) and led the nation in every major hitting category.

Sanders' selection gives the Ragin' Cajuns the Hitter of the Year award for the second straight season (Lexie Elkins in 2016), six times in the last seven seasons and 10 in the last 15. Her plus-10 advantage in Hitter of the Year votes — 12 for her, two apiece for LSU-Alexandria's Danelle Billings and LSU outfielder Bailey Landry — was the largest margin in four years.

Alyssa Denham was the other major award winner for Michael Lotief's squad. A Top 25 finalist for NFCA National Freshman of the Year and the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Denham was chosen as the Freshman of the Year by the LSWA's voting panel. She defeated SEC Top 5 teams Alabama (two-hit shutout) and Texas A&M as part of a 15-2 collegiate debut campaign in 2017.

Denham is the first Ragin' Cajun to claim the top freshman honor since Jordan Wallace in 2012 and the 15th overall selection for the award in program history.

Sanders, who picked up her second career All-Louisiana award (second team in 2016), headlined the Cajuns' first team contingent. Other first team selections were Alex Stewart at pitcher, Kassidy Zeringue at second base, Kara Gremillion at third base and Aleah Craighton and Haley Hayden in the outfield.

Gremillion and Sanders were the only unanimous selections on the first team. Gremillion, a sophomore, was the lone individual who was not an upperclassman. Hayden received first team All-Louisiana honors for the fourth time and second time in the outfield (also 2014) – she played second base her other two seasons. Craighton is a repeat first team selection and, like Sanders, first team NFCA All-American.

Lexie Comeaux was chosen at catcher on the All-Louisiana second team, giving her recognition at the state, conference (All-SBC second team) and regional (NFCA All-Central Region second team) level in her first year as a collegiate starter. Denham was one of 15 players statewide to receive honorable mention.

A Louisiana Sports Writers Association panel of media and sports publicists selected the All-Louisiana team, based on statistics and performances through the teams' conference tournaments. This is the 32nd year of All-Louisiana softball selections.

LSU's Allie Walljasper, who was 16-4 with a 1.21 ERA and posted 11 shutouts prior to NCAA postseason play, took home Pitcher of the Year honors. Billings, who transferred to LSU-A from Evangel University, hit .480 with 18 home runs (school record) and 76 RBI in collecting the Newcomer of the Year award. Louisiana Tech's Mark Montgomery was recognized as Coach of the Year for leading the Lady Techsters to their first NCAA Tournament berth and conference tournament championship since 2008 and a 38-24 record – their most victories since 1995.

The Ragin' Cajuns finished the 2017 campaign with a 47-8 overall record and a 23-1 mark in Sun Belt Conference play which set a record for conference victories. Louisiana claimed its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference championship, the 15th overall in the 17 years of league competition since 2001, and repeated as the league's postseason tournament champion.

The 2017 squad secured the program's 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, extended the string of 40-win seasons to 19 straight and had the program competing for an NCAA Regional championship for the 10th consecutive year.

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