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Softball: Elkins and Stewart Headline Cajuns All-Louisiana Picks

LAFAYETTE – No. 9-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns softball placed a state-leading total of eight student-athletes, which included five first team selections, on the 2016 All-Louisiana Collegiate Softball Team, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) announced Saturday evening.
The Ragin’ Cajuns five first team honorees led the way, the total being one more than LSU (four) and the same amount produced last year. It’s the ninth straight year that the Ragin’ Cajuns topped the charts in first team All-Louisiana selections.
Three-time All-American catcher and Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete of the Year Lexie Elkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the NPF Draft and first Cajun to finish with a .500-plus season average, was named the state’s Hitter of the Year. Elkins (.509, 19 HR, 49 RBI) received the award for the second time in three years, adding to her 2014 honor.


Alex Stewart, a second team NFCA All-American and Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, was chosen as Pitcher of the Year and shared the honor with LSU’s Carly Hoover. Stewart (29-6, 1.94 ERA) led all Louisiana pitchers in wins and finished the season ranked Top 5 nationally in the category.
Elkins (C) and Stewart (P) were joined on the All-Louisiana First Team by Aleah Craighton (OF), Haley Hayden (2B) and Shellie Landry (OF).
Elkins and Hayden received first team All-Louisiana honors for the third straight season. Landry, who picked up her fourth career All-Louisiana accolade, returned to the first team for the first time since 2014. Craighton, an honorable mention pick in 2015, and Stewart were selected to either team for the first time in their career.
Three other Ragin’ Cajuns were honored by the LSWA as Kara Gremillion (3B), DJ Sanders (SS) and Sara Corbello (DP) were each named to the All-Louisiana Second Team. It’s the first career All-Louisiana honor for all three individuals.
An LSWA panel of media and sports publicists selected the All-Louisiana team, based on statistics and performances through the teams’ conference tournaments.

Nicholls State received the other half of the major awards as shortstop Amanda Gianelloni was named Freshman of the Year and Angel Santiago the Coach of the Year. Gianelloni hit .391 with seven home runs and 40 RBI and was the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year. Santiago, in his fifth season at Nicholls, led the Colonels to their most overall victories (39-17) and conference victories (21-5) since 1998.

The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the 2016 campaign with a 46-9 record. Louisiana claimed its third straight Sun Belt Conference regular championship and 14th in the 16 years of league competition since 2001. The squad received a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, and hosted an NCAA Regional at Lamson Park, for the fourth time in the past five years and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the fifth straight year.
For more information on Ragin’ Cajuns softball, fans can follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball) and Twitter (@RaginCajunSB).
Lexie Elkins (Sr., C, Victoria, Texas) – Named LSWA Hitter of the Year for second time in past three seasons…third straight year selected to first team…three-time Sun Belt Student-Athlete of the Year winner (first in league to accomplish feat)…first Ragin’ Cajun to finish a season with a .500-plus average (.509)…hit .561 with 11 home runs and 26 RBI in the season’s first month…piled up 13 multiple-hit and 12 multiple RBI games through end of March (29 games)…grabbed hold of No. 2 spot on school’s career home run chart, finishing with 75 career home runs which ranks 12th all-time in NCAA history.
Alex Stewart (Jr., P, Zionsville, Ind.) – First career All-Louisiana selection and Pitcher of the Year honor…Sun Belt-best five wins over ranked teams – defeated No. 5 Oregon (twice) and No. 19 Baylor in regular season, plus No. 25 Texas and No. 16 Texas A&M in NCAA Regional…finished No. 5 in NCAA stats for victories (29)…in all six starts vs. ranked teams in the regular season, allowed three earned runs or less…posted a 13-0 start in Sun Belt play to lead the Cajuns to the conference championship by April 30… reached eight strikeouts 10 times, twice tying career-high of 11 (Troy, Texas State).
Haley Hayden (Jr., 2B, West Monroe, La.) – Third consecutive first team All-Louisiana selection…hit safely in 45 of 55 games, had 10 different hitting streaks – ending season with an 11-game hit streak – and went entire season without consecutive hitless games…reached 60 hits and runs a third straight season (tied career-high of 70 hits)…only nine strikeouts in team-high 213 plate appearances…hit .368 with runners in scoring position and topped team with 25 hits w/RISP…led Cajuns with 19 multiple-hit games.
DJ Sanders (So., SS, Columbus, Miss.) – First career All-Louisiana honor… posted career-bests in home runs (18) and RBI (58)…first Cajun to reach 50 RBI…Top 15 nationally in home runs per game and Top 30 RBI per game…nearly half of hits in Sun Belt play were home runs (9-of-21) and drove home 29 RBI (third-most in league play)…second on team with 17 multiple RBI games; reached three RBI nine times.
Kara Gremillion (Fr., 3B, Gonzales, La.) – First career All-Louisiana honor… started all 55 games as a freshman at third base; had only four errors in 152 chances (60 PO, 88 A, 4 E)…played 21 error-free games Feb. 26-Apr. 3 and recorded a second double-digit streak of 19 straight error-free games (Apr. 9-May 21)…second on the team with 14 hits vs. Top 25 teams; hit .424 (14-for-33)…displayed poise at the plate, with 30 walks against 11 strikeouts in 173 plate appearances (.480 on base percentage).
Aleah Craighton (So., OF, Prairieville, La.) – Second career All-Louisiana honor (honorable mention in 2015)…set personal season-bests for doubles (12), home runs (18), RBI (56) and extra base hits (32)…Over half of hits went for extra bases (32-of-56) leading to a career-best .851 slugging percentage…Top 10 nationally in slugging, Top 20 in home runs, Top 40 in runs per game and Top 50 in RBI per game…in Sun Belt play, led league in slugging (1.069), on base percentage (.593), runs (33) and home runs (11).
Shellie Landry (Sr., OF, Broussard, La.) – Fourth career All-Louisiana selection, overall, and second first team honor (2014, 2016)…led Sun Belt in RBI in league play with 35 (1.52/game)…generated 28 of season’s 57 RBI since April 1…led Cajuns with 18 multiple-RBI games (11 times with 3-plus)…reached 50 hits, 50 RBI and double digit home runs for second straight year and third time overall…picked up 50th career home run, 200th career hit and 200th career RBI.
Sara Corbello (Sr., DP, Lake Charles, La.) – First career All-Louisiana selection…set career-high for home runs with 13, reaching double digits for the first time…beginning March 25, raised average 52 points by hitting .341 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI…posted a .339 average in Sun Belt play, a career-best mark…homered in six (6) straight Sun Belt games from Mar. 25-Apr. 3 (Troy, Texas State)…picked up 100th career hit and 100th career RBI.
First Team                                                   
Pitcher: Carley Hoover (LSU)
Pitcher: Alex Stewart (Louisiana)
Catcher: Lexie Elkins (Louisiana)
First Base: Sandra Simmons (LSU)
Second Base: Haley Hayden (Louisiana)
Third Base: Bianka Bell (LSU)
Shortstop: Amanda Gianelloni (Nicholls State)
Outfield: Aleah Craighton (Louisiana)
Outfield: Shellie Landry (Louisiana)
Outfield: Rochelle Roberts (ULM)
Designated Player: Sahvanna Jaquish (LSU)
Utility: Emily Vincent (McNeese State)
Hitter of the Year:  Lexie Elkins, Louisiana
Pitcher of the Year:  Carley Hoover, LSU; Alex Stewart, Louisiana
Freshman of the Year:  Amanda Gianelloni, Nicholls State
Coach of the Year:  Angel Santiago, Nicholls State
Second Team                                                         
Pitcher: Jamie Allred (McNeese State)
Pitcher: Hannah Haydel (Nicholls State)
Catcher: Erika Piancastelli (McNeese State)
First Base: Kim Gonzalez (LSU-Alexandria)
Second Base: Hailey Drew (McNeese State)
Third Base: Heather Bunn (LSU-Alexandria)
Third Base: Kara Gremillion (Louisiana)
Shortstop: DJ Sanders (Louisiana)
Outfield: Katie Lacour (Southeastern Louisiana)
Outfield: Bailey Landry (LSU)
Outfield: Morgan Turkoly (Louisiana Tech)
Designated Player: Sara Corbello (Louisiana)
Utility: Allie Walljasper (LSU)
Honorable Mention
Pitcher:  Bailey Allen, Louisiana Tech; Sydney Smith, LSU
Catcher:  Kellsi Kloss, LSU
First Base:  Amye Barre, Louisiana-Monroe; Mattie Stine, Louisiana College
Shortstop:  Julinn Torres, LSU-Alexandria
Outfield:  Kellye Kincannon, Northwestern State; Danielle Phillips, Nicholls State; Marisa Taunton, McNeese State
Designated Player:  Morgan Catron, McNeese State
Utility:  Anna Cross, Louisiana Tech; Veronica Villafranco, Nicholls State