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Softball: Cajuns Place Record-Tying Six on NFCA All-Region Team

LAFAYETTE – No. 9 ranked Ragin’ Cajuns Softball placed a program-record tying six student-athletes on the 2016 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-Central Region Team, including three first-team honorees, the association announced Thursday.
Aleah Craighton, Lexie Elkins and Alex Stewart were the Ragin’ Cajuns’ representatives on the NFCA All-Central Region First Team. Shellie Landry and DJ Sanders were second team honorees and Haley Hayden was placed on the third team.
Click here to access the 2016 NFCA Division I All-Central Region Team.
The awards honor softball student-athletes from the NFCA’s 10 regions with first, second team and selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams, and all the honorees now become eligible for selection to the 2016 NFCA Division I All-American squads.
The 2016 NFCA Division I All-America teams will be announced at approximately 4 p.m. (CDT) on Wednesday, June 1, via NFCA.org.
The Ragin’ Cajuns six selections tied Baylor for second-most in the Central Region, trailing only Oklahoma’s eight picks, and matched the program record accomplished in 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2012.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (43-7) were part of a group of 12 teams across all NFCA regions to have at least six all-region honorees. The list included: No. 2 Michigan (Great Lakes), No. 3 Oklahoma (Central) and No. 4 Oregon (Pacific) each with eight; No. 1 Florida (Southeast), No. 10 LSU (South), No. 12 Washington (Pacific) and 23 Notre Dame (Mid-Atlantic) with seven; and No. 14 UCLA (West), No. 8 James Madison (Northeast), No. 9 Louisiana (Central), No. 19 Minnesota (Great Lakes) and No. 21 Baylor (Central) had six each.
Elkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the NPF Draft and three-time Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete of the Year, received first team all-region honors for the third straight year. A 2014 and 2015 NFCA All-American, the Victoria, Texas, has the opportunity to become only the sixth Ragin’ Cajun in program history to earn All-American status three times, a list that presently includes Lynn Britton, Tiffany Clark, Stephanie DeFeo, Danyele Gomez and Kyla Hall.
For Hayden and Landry, it marked a second straight year on the NFCA All-Central Region team as both were first team picks a year ago. Craighton, Stewart and Sanders each picked up their first career selections.
Stewart emerged as the lead pitcher on the Ragin’ Cajuns staff, leading the way with 27 victories which ranks Top 10 nationally. A 16-1 mark in Sun Belt Conference play helped guide Louisiana to the conference championship and earned her Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year honors.
Craighton, last week’s Sun Belt Tournament Most Outstanding Player, has seen over 50 percent (30 of 52) of her hits go for extra bases resulting in a career-best .887 slugging percentage. The Prairieville, La., native has set personal bests for doubles (11), home runs (17) and RBI (53).
Sanders enters the NCAA Regional as one of the Cajuns hottest hitters with a hit in nine of the last 10 games producing a .355 average with three home runs and 13 RBI. Like Craighton, she has set personal bests for home runs (17) and RBI (54) while ranking second on the team with 16 multiple-RBI games.
Hayden’s consistency at the plate brought her this year’s honor. She’s posted a hit in 40 of 50 games, including the last six straight, and has reached 60 base hits for the third straight year. The junior second baseman hit .362 in February, .360 in March, .388 in April and is hitting .360 in May.
Landry, who last season joined Alyson Habetz and Karli Hubbard as Lafayette area natives to be named an All-American, is eligible for a second distinction. The Ragin’ Cajuns leader in multiple-RBI games with 17, she has produced at least three RBI 10 times. She led the entire Sun Belt Conference with 35 RBI in league play boosting her season total past 50 for the third time in her four-year career.
Louisiana, the national No. 14 seed, begins play in the 2016 NCAA Softball Tournament in the Lafayette Regional at Lamson Park scheduled for Friday-Sunday, May 20-22. Action begins Friday with Texas A&M and Texas at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2 followed by Louisiana and Boston University at 6 p.m., on ESPNU.