2014 ALL-LOUISIANA COLLEGIATE SOFTBALL TEAM
For release in morning newspapers (newsprint editions only — NOT WEBSITES) of Sunday, June 8;
available to all others, including newspaper websites and social media, after 11 p.m. CDT on Saturday, June 7
All-time list of All-Louisiana softball major awards (PDF file)
By Ed Cassiere
Sports Information Director, Xavier University
(written for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association)
Not only did Louisiana-Lafayette's Lexie Elkins successfully replace Sarah Draheim behind the plate in 2014, but she also produced a pair of firsts on the All-Louisiana collegiate softball team.
Elkins is the first in the 29-year history of the team to win two of the major awards in the same season. She's the Hitter of the Year — succeeding Draheim, a senior in 2013 — and Newcomer of the Year. She's also the first sophomore to be chosen Hitter of the Year.
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.
Elkins, from Victoria, Texas, and a transfer from Texas Tech, hit .399 with 18 home runs and 68 runs batted in to lead the Ragin' Cajuns to a 49-10-1 record and their sixth appearance in the Women's College World Series.
For the full season, Elkins had 24 homers, No. 2 on the Cajuns' all-time season list. As a freshman at Texas Tech in 2013, Elkins hit zero homers in 146 plate appearances.
"Her consistency this year has been off the charts," Ragin' Cajuns coach Michael Lotief told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser in early May. "Everything has been, really. Her consistency, the numbers she's put up, her work ethic and her durability. For her to handle the physical side of being behind the plate and hit as well as she has, it takes a special kid to do that."
UL Lafayette became the first school to sweep Hitter of the Year and Pitcher of the Year in consecutive seasons. The Cajuns' Christina Hamilton, 24-2 with four saves and a 1.55 ERA, won the pitching award.
Hamilton, a junior right-hander from Leesville, La., recorded six victories against top-25 teams and had a 20-game win streak.
For the second straight year, LSU has the Freshman of the Year. This time it's designated player Sahvanna Jaquish, who hit .335 and led the Tigers with 13 homers, 48 RBI and a .646 slugging percentage. The Highland, Calif., resident set an LSU record for home runs by a first-year player.
Jaquish won Freshman of the Year by one vote over Louisiana-Lafayette's Haley Hayden. Jaquish was runner-up for Hitter of the Year.
For the first time since 1999, two schools share Coach of the Year. McNeese State's Mike Smith and LSU-Alexandria's Charlie Zeilman earned the honor for the first time in their careers.
Smith led McNeese to its first 40-victory season (40-17) and a second consecutive Southland Conference regular-season championship. The Cowgirls broke 16 school or SLC records and beat three ranked SEC teams: Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU. Another SEC member, Ole Miss, hired Smith as its head coach on May 29.
Zeilman, in his third season at LSUA, led the Lady Generals in a historic season. Unranked in the preseason, they won 21 of their first 22 games and were a top-10 team from the first regular-season poll through the postseason. They ranked as high as No. 2 on May 6, earned their first-ever NAIA World Series berth and ended the year 35-5 and ranked sixth.
UL Lafayette and LSU each have four first-team selections. It's the seventh straight year that the Cajuns lead the state in that category.
The Cajuns' first-team selections are Elkins, Hamilton, Natalie Fernandez at second base and Hayden in the outfield. LSU's first-teamers are Jaquish, Sandra Simmons at first base, Bianka Bell at shortstop and outfielder A.J. Andrews.
The other first-team players are pitcher Jamie Allred and outfielder Alanna DiVittorio of McNeese, Northwestern State's Brittany Virgoe at third base and Louisiana Tech utility player Pauline Tufi.
Repeat first-team selections are Virgoe, Bell, DiVittorio and Andrews. DiVittorio is All-Louisiana for the third straight year; she was second team in 2012. Bell (2013) and DiVittorio (2011) are previous recipients of Louisiana Freshman of the Year.
Also earning their third All-Louisiana selections are the Cajuns' Fernandez (second team in 2011 and 2012) and second-team catcher Ashley Modzelewski of McNeese (first team in 2012, second team in 2013).
Northwestern State, the SLC Tournament champion for the second consecutive season, has five second-team selections: pitcher Kaylee Guidry — a 2013 Louisiana Co-Newcomer of the Year — first baseman Brianna Rodriguez, shortstop Tara McKenney, outfielder Kellye Kincannon and designated player Cassandra Barefield. Also on the second team are pitcher Baylee Corbello and second baseman Allison Falcon of LSU, outfielder Brooke Thomas of LSUA, third baseman Alexis Cacioppo of Louisiana-Monroe and outfielder Katie Lacour of Southeastern Louisiana.
There is no second-team utility player because Tufi was the lone nominee. Fourteen players received honorable mention.