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Softball: Cajuns Sweep Honors

The Sun Belt Conference softball season ended pretty much as it started – with the University of Louisiana grabbing honors.

For the 10th and 11th times this season, Ragin’ Cajun players were honored Monday with Sun Belt weekly honors, and for the fifth time it was a UL sweep with shortstop Codi Runyan named Player of the Week and Ashley Kirchberg tabbed as Pitcher of the Week.

It was the fourth such honor for Kirchberg (23-1), who leads the league in wins and ERA (1.77) and took two wins over the weekend when UL claimed its sixth straight Sun Belt regular-season title.

Kirchberg won a 10-0 decision over Middle Tennessee on Saturday and shared an 11-0 shutout with Krystal Lewallen during the Cajuns’ weekend sweep. Overall, she allowed six hits while fanning five in eight innings of work and didn’t walk a batter in the two run-rule victories.

Kirchberg finished the Sun Belt season unbeaten (8-0) and has now won 13 straight decisions.

Runyan won her first Sun Belt weekly honor after going 5-for-9 over the weekend with a team-best five runs batted in. She had a hit in each of the three games including going 3-for-3 in Sunday’s finale win. She had a three-run homer in Saturday’s second game and a two-run double on Sunday.

TOURNAMENT TIME: The Sun Belt Championships begin Thursday in Miami, Fla., hosted by Florida International. Games begin at 10 a.m. (CDT), and the Cajuns play Thursday’s final game at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) against the winner of the 12:30 p.m. Middle Tennessee-Troy game.
UL is the number one seed in the tournament for the seventh straight season and takes a 19-0 all-time record in Sun Belt tournament play into the double-elimination event. Finals are scheduled for Saturday.

MORE HONORS: The all-conference team is scheduled to be announced Wednesday night at a pre-tournament banquet, but there’s not much question about the top honor.
UL senior outfielder Danyele Gomez locked down the league’s “triple crown” over the weekend, finishing the year leading the conference in batting average (.456), home runs (28) and runs batted in (64). Her average is over 100 points ahead of the rest of the league, and her homer total is eight more than teammate Ashley Evans in second place with 20.

Gomez was the league’s Player of the Year last season when she earned NFCA third-team All-America honors and All-South first team honors. She was picked as preseason Player of the Year by the league’s coaches prior to this season.

BYE-BYE: Gomez added to her nation-leading home run total over the weekend, and will be after another milestone at the Sun Belt tournament. She is two short of becoming only the third player in NCAA history to record 30 homers in a single season.
The senior from Metairie passed Washington’s Kristen Rivera on the NCAA’s career home run list during the weekend, and her total of 81 puts her in fourth place in the all-time career rankings. She is four short of moving into second place on that list.

Updated NCAA national statistics, along with the ESPN.com/USA Softball national poll and the WarrenNolan.com pseudo-RPI rankings, will be released today.

Originally published May 9, 2006