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Softball: Sanders’ Homecoming Showcase Nets Sun Belt Honors

Lexie Elkins, DJ Sanders


 LAFAYETTE – No. 5-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball sophomore shortstop DJ Sanders received Student-Athlete of the Week honors from the Sun Belt Conference on Tuesday for her showcase at the plate in the first collegiate games she played in her home state during last weekend’s three-game series sweep of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The Columbus, Miss., native and New Hope High School product belted four home runs, posted a series-high seven RBI and slugged 2.125. Sanders finished 5-for-8 (.625 avg.) at the plate in the series with the Golden Eagles, with four of the five hits being home runs.
Sanders, a 2016 preseason All-Sun Belt selection and U.S. National Team Selection Camp invitee, scored multiple runs all three games, accounting for eight total, and posted three multiple-RBI games in reaching seven RBI in the series. Adding in three walks, she reached base eight times in 11 plate appearances.
"DJ had a special weekend, and that’s a product of her working extremely hard," Louisiana softball head coach Michael Lotief said. "Everyone knows what she’s capable of defensively – her range, arm strength and the way she solidifies the middle of the infield – but what really was her coming out party last weekend, was the offense."
Sanders received the first Sun Belt weekly honor of her career. She’s the third Ragin’ Cajun to be honored with a weekly award by the league this season, joining Lexie Elkins (Student-Athlete of the Week, Feb. 16) and Kylee Jo Trahan (Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week, March 1) as honorees.
The 2015 U.S. Junior Women’s National Team member becomes the 21st different Ragin’ Cajuns softball player to earn the weekly hitting award from the SBC. Sanders’ honor marks the 75th student-athlete of the week honor all-time for Louisiana since the league began bestowing the honor in 2000.
Sanders homered twice in the series opener, tying her season-and career-high set earlier this season vs. UAB in Gulf Shores. The three RBI posted in the opener marked her third straight game totaling the amount.
In the series finale on Sunday that clinched the three-game sweep, Sanders launched a two-run home run in the fourth inning to help the Cajuns erase a 1-0 deficit and later scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning – breaking a 2-2 tie – after drawing a one-out walk and crossing home plate on a bases loaded, fielder’s choice grounder by Kelli Martinez.
"She showed the power off of her bat," Lotief remarked. "Every time that she squared the ball up it was out of the park. She hit it to right center, left center, right field and left field…she just wasn’t one-dimensional.
"She showed power to the opposite field and the pull side and she was able to do it on off-speed, rise ball and down," Lotief added. "That’s been her progression since the fall. She’s been showing that kind of power and I think that she is just going to keep getting better and better."
Sanders and the No. 5-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns softball team (17-1) return to Lamson Park this week carrying an 11-game win streak into a series of four games that are scheduled at the friendly confines. The week begins with a 6 p.m. single game, weather permitting, against Longwood University on Wednesday, March 9 and concludes with the Sun Belt Conference opening series featuring South Alabama set for Saturday-Sunday, March 12-13.
For more information on Ragin’ Cajuns softball, fans can follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball) and Twitter (@RaginCajunSB).
Feb. 16 – Lexie Elkins (Student-Athlete of the Week)
Mar. 1 – Kylee Jo Trahan (Pitcher of the Week)
Mar. 8DJ Sanders (Student-Athlete of the Week)
2016: Lexie Elkins (2/16); DJ Sanders (3/8)
2015: Lexie Elkins (3/23); Lexie Elkins (4/20); Aleah Craighton (5/4)
2014: Lexie Elkins (2/10); Natalie Fernandez (3/24); Lexie Elkins (4/7)
2013: Brianna Cherry (2/25); Nerissa Myers (4/8); Nerissa Myers (4/29)
2012: Christi Orgeron (2/13); Christi Orgeron (2/20); Nerissa Myers (3/5); Nerissa Myers (3/19); Christi Orgeron (3/26); Christi Orgeron (4/23)
2011: Gabriele Bridges (2/14); Christi Orgeron (3/7); Gabriel Bridges (3/21); Christi Orgeron (4/18); Gabriele Bridges (5/2); Gabriele Bridges (5/9)
2010: Vallie Gaspard (2/15); Christi Orgeron (3/8); Christi Orgeron (3/29)
2009: Gabriele Bridges (2/16); Karli Hubbard (3/16); Gabriele Bridges (4/6); Christi Orgeron (4/20); Christi Orgeron (4/27)
2008: Melissa Verde (2/11); Holly Tankersley (3/10); Holly Tankersley (4/14)
2007: Codi Runyan (2/12); Holly Tankersley (2/19); Holly Tankersley (2/26); Holly Tankersley (3/12); Holly Tankersley (3/19); Melissa Verde (4/23)
2006: Danyele Gomez (2/14); Danyele Gomez (2/21); Danyele Gomez (4/3); Danyele Gomez (4/10); Danyele Gomez (4/24); Codi Runyan (5/8)
2005: Jill Robertson (2/21); Crystal George (3/14); Jill Robertson (4/18); Danyele Gomez (4/25); Danyele Gomez (5/2)
2004: Holly Tankersley (2/17); Holly Tankersley (3/2); Holly Tankersley (4/5); Holly Tankersley (5/3)
2003: Becky McMurtry (3/4); Danyele Gomez (3/13); Becky McMurtry (4/7); Danyele Gomez (4/14); Becky McMurtry (5/5)
2002: Alana Addison (3/18); Becky McMurtry (3/25); Jerie Alexander (4/1); Alana Addison (4/15); Missy Martin (4/22); Becky McMurtry (4/29)
2001: Alana Addison (3/19); Missy Martin (3/26); Alana Addison (4/2); Jerie Alexander (4/23); Jana Mower (4/30)
2000: Tiffany Clark (3/13); Alana Addison (3/27); Jana Mower (4/10); Tiffany Clark (4/17)