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For release in morning newspapers (newsprint editions only — NOT WEBSITES) of Sunday, June 5;
available to all other media, including newspaper websites, after 11 p.m. CDT on Saturday, June 4

All-time list of All-Louisiana softball special awards  (PDF file)

By Ed Cassiere
Sports Information Director, Xavier University
(written for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association)

     Had there been a Comeback Player of the Year award on the 2011 All-Louisiana collegiate softball team, Ashley Brignac would've won that too.
     But instead the Louisiana-Lafayette right-hander is back in familiar territory, winning Pitcher of the Year for the second time. The Ragin' Cajuns also lead the way again with five first-team All-Louisiana players, including outfielder Christi Orgeron, the Hitter of the Year.
     The other special awards went to McNeese State outfielder Alanna DiVittorio and Louisiana College designated player Emily Douglas, who tied in voting for Freshman of the Year, and to LSU's Yvette Girouard, who in her final season was chosen Coach of the Year.
     A 15-member 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.
     Brignac, a junior from River Ridge, La., was the state's top pitcher as a freshman in 2008. But an injury to her throwing shoulder hampered her effectiveness in 2009 and forced her to redshirt in 2010 and miss all of last season. But after surgery and plenty of rehab, Brignac came back better than ever this year, going 32-7 with a 1.50 ERA and three no-hitters. She helped the Cajuns win the Sun Belt Conference and earn the program's 21st NCAA Tournament berth and 13th in a row. The Cajuns finished 51-11 and were runner-up to Houston in the NCAA Austin Regional.
     What never suffered was her dedication in the classroom. A consistent 4.0 student since high school, Brignac was chosen Capital One Academic All-AmericaŽ of the Year among NCAA Division I softball players by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
     Her teammate, Orgeron, was equally stellar, hitting .414 with 23 homers and 101 RBIs and making the final 10 for USA Softball's Collegiate Player of the Year. Her runs batted in are the most in NCAA Division I since 1996, and her March 4 homer gave the Cajuns a 1-0 victory against then-top-ranked Alabama. Orgeron was All-Louisiana first team and Freshman of the Year in 2009, and she was second team a year ago.
     McNeese's DiVittorio, an honorable-mention selection, hit .255 with eight homers, 30 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and a team-high 38 walks. She shared the state's top freshman award with Douglas, who cracked Louisiana College's lineup early because of injuries and finished with a .382 batting average and only three strikeouts in 106 plate appearances.
     Douglas and UL Lafayette's Natalie Fernandez tied in votes for second-team designated player. Fernandez was one vote behind DiVittorio and Douglas in the Freshman of the Year balloting.
     Girouard, retiring after 31 seasons as a collegiate head coach — 20 at UL Lafayette, the last 11 at LSU — is Louisiana Coach of the Year for a record 14th time and the fifth time at LSU. She led the Lady Tigers to their 10th NCAA Tournament berth during her tenure and a 40-18 final record. Her career record is 1,285-421-1 — 759-250 at UL Lafayette and 526-171-1 at LSU.
     UL Lafayette's other first-team selections are Gabriele Bridges at first base, Paige Cormier at second base and Nerissa Myers at shortstop. The only other school with multiple first-teamers is Louisiana College, an NCAA Division III power which placed catcher Amber Thomas and outfielder Brittany Menard.
     The other first-teamers are LSU pitcher Brittany Mack, Nicholls State third baseman Ashley Ray, Louisiana-Monroe outfielder Brianna Love, Northwestern State designated player Kylie Roos and Louisiana Tech's Janna Frandrup at utility.
     Bridges, who hit .369 with 22 homers and 79 RBIs, is first-team All-Louisiana for the third consecutive year. ULM's Love, who hit .381 with 16 homers, 40 RBIs and 27 stolen bases, made the first team for the second time in three years. She was second team in 2010.
     There could be plenty of repeat selections on next year's All-Louisiana team. Only three seniors made the first team and just one made the second team. That lone second-team senior is Louisiana College pitcher René Schwartzenburg, 75-9 in four collegiate seasons and on the second team a third straight time.
     The other second-team players are first baseman Anissa Young, third baseman Tammy Wray and outfielder Simone Heyward of LSU, pitcher Kelee Grimes and second baseman Cali Burke of Northwestern, catcher Sarah Draheim of UL Lafayette, outfielder Claire Terracina of McNeese, outfielder Kelsey Nichols of Southeastern Louisiana, shortstop Shawntall Steamer of Southern and utility player Megan Gaspard of Nicholls. Young is on the second team for the second consecutive year.
     Twenty-two players received honorable mention.

First Team
Position Name School Yr. Hometown Notes
Pitcher Ashley Brignac Louisiana-Lafayette Jr. River Ridge, La. 32-7, 1.50 ERA, Capital One Academic All-AmericaŽ of the Year
Pitcher Brittany Mack LSU Jr. Round Rock, Texas 18-6, 1.92 ERA, All-South Region, All-SEC
Catcher Amber Thomas Louisiana College Sr. Rosepine, La. .369, 9 HRs, 42 RBIs, All-Region, All-American Southwest East Division
First Base Gabriele Bridges Louisiana-Lafayette Sr. Lafitte, La. .369, 22 HRs, 79 RBIs, All-Louisiana first team for third straight year
Second Base Paige Cormier Louisiana-Lafayette Jr. Carencro, La. .286, 5 HRs, 36 RBIs
Third Base Ashley Ray Nicholls State Jr. Lafayette, La. .369, 17 HRs, 51 RBIs, Southland Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year
Shortstop Nerissa Myers Louisiana-Lafayette So. Petal, Miss. .372, 43 RBIs, Sun Belt-record-tying 77 runs
Outfield Brianna Love Louisiana-Monroe Sr. Garland, Texas .381, 16 HRs, 40 RBIs, 27 SBs, All-South Region, All-Sun Belt
Outfield Brittany Menard Louisiana College So. Baton Rouge, La. .397, 19 RBIs, 16 SBs, All-Region, All-American Southwest East Division
Outfield Christi Orgeron Louisiana-Lafayette Jr. New Orleans, La. .414, 23 HRs, 101 RBIs, All-South Region, Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year
Designated PlayerKylie Roos Northwestern State So. Celina, Texas .289, 8 HRs, 37 RBIs, 12-7 as a pitcher with 2.23 ERA
Utility Janna Frandrup Louisiana Tech So. Phoenix, Ariz. .292, 5 HRs, 22 RBIs, All-WAC second team, played five positions
Hitter of the Year:  Christi Orgeron, Louisiana-Lafayette
Pitcher of the Year:  Ashley Brignac, Louisiana-Lafayette
Newcomer of the Year:  no nominees
Freshman of the Year:  (tie) Alanna DiVittorio, McNeese State; Emily Douglas, Louisiana College
Coach of the Year:  Yvette Girouard, LSU
Second Team
Position Name School Yr. Hometown Notes
Pitcher Kelee Grimes Northwestern State Jr. Pineville, La. 11-8, 1.51 ERA, led Southland Conference in ERA
Pitcher René Schwartzenburg Louisiana College Sr. Marksville, La. 18-5, 2.52 ERA, 75-9 in four seasons, All-Louisiana second team for third straight year
Catcher Sarah Draheim Louisiana-Lafayette So. Flower Mound, Texas .296, 6 HRs, 52 RBIs, All-Sun Belt second team
First Base Anissa Young LSU Jr. Fontana, Calif. .286, 10 HRs, 41 RBIs, All-South Region second team, All-SEC second team
Second Base Cali Burke Northwestern State Fr. Mesquite, Texas .295, All-Southland second team
Third Base Tammy Wray LSU Fr. Somers, N.Y. .260, 7 HRs, 30 RBIs
Shortstop Shawntall Steamer Southern So. Freeport, Texas .377, 6 HRs, 32 RBIs, All-SWAC
Outfield Simone Heyward LSU Fr. Sacramento, Calif. .285, 7 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, All-SEC Freshman Team
Outfield Kelsey Nichols Southeastern Louisiana So. Alvin, Texas .358, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs, All-Southland second team
Outfield Claire Terracina McNeese State Jr. Lake Charles, La. .293, 22 RBIs, All-Southland
Designated PlayerEmily Douglas Louisiana College Fr. St. Amant, La. .382, 18 RBIs, All-American Southwest East Division
Designated PlayerNatalie Fernandez Louisiana-Lafayette Fr. Denham Springs, La. .365, 17 stolen bases, .455 on-base percentage
Utility Megan Gaspard Nicholls State Jr. Coteau, La. .330, 22 stolen bases, All-Southland third team
Honorable Mention
Pitcher:  Rachele Fico, LSU; Meghan Krieg, Louisiana Tech; Kayla Shepherd, McNeese State.
Catcher:  Allie Geisler, Louisiana Tech.
First Base:  Mandy Granger, Nicholls State; Katie Shumaker, McNeese State; Kiah Williams, Southern.
Second Base:  Katie Roux, McNeese State; Calla Willoughby, LSU-Alexandria.
Shortstop:  Katie Duhe, Southeastern Louisiana; Molly Guidry, McNeese State; Janel Salanoa, Louisiana-Monroe.
Outfield:  Kayla Cole, Northwestern State; Alanna DiVittorio, McNeese State; Kendra Harmon, Louisiana Tech; Lindsey Langner, McNeese State; Ashley Langoni, LSU; Whitney Roan, Nicholls State; Katie Smith, Louisiana-Lafayette; Victoria Stewart, Southern.
Utility:  Jessica Pocorello, LSU-Alexandria; Tiffany Shaw, LSU.
Vote Breakdown of Special Awards
Hitter of the Year:  Christi Orgeron, Louisiana-Lafayette, 13; Brianna Love, Louisiana-Monroe, 1; Ashley Ray, Nicholls State, 1.
Pitcher of the Year:  Ashley Brignac, Louisiana-Lafayette, 11; Brittany Mack, LSU, 4.
Freshman of the Year:  Alanna DiVittorio, McNeese State, 5; Emily Douglas, Louisiana College, 5; Natalie Fernandez, Louisiana-Lafayette, 4; Simone Heyward, LSU, 1.
Coach of the Year:  Yvette Girouard, LSU, 8; Danielle Price, Louisiana College, 4; Stefni and Michael Lotief, Louisiana-Lafayette, 3.