Coaches selected the UL-Lafayette softball and baseball teams repeat as winners of the Sun Belt Conference this season, and a trio of players were recognized as preseason players of the year.
Junior shortstop Blake Trahan was named baseball’s preseason Player of the Year, while the softball team captured both honors, with junior catcher Lexie Elkins earning preseason Player of the Year honors, and senior pitcher Christina Hamilton being named preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The baseball team received eight of 11 first-place votes to run away with the preseason title, earning 20 more points on the ballot than Texas State, who was tabbed to finish second in the league.
The recognition is nice, but isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things to coach Tony Robichaux.
“Polls, especially the early ones, don’t mean a whole lot,” Robichaux said in a news release. “The most important poll is the one at the end of the season. We appreciate that the coaches in the league recognize our potential, but potential doesn’t win you championships.”
The softball team received seven of nine first-place votes, and narrowly edged South Alabama by five points to earn the top spot in the preseason rankings.
“The (Sun Belt) conference part of our schedule is something that we always enjoy, and it something over the years, it’s been fun to compete for those honors and a championship,” softball coach Michael Lotief said. “I think this year is going to be very competitive and the kids are excited about what’s in front of us.”
Trahan was pegged as the SBC’s preseason Player of the Year after hitting .355 with 12 doubles and 49 RBI for the Cajuns a year ago. He was named a first-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association and earned second-team honors from Perfect Game and Baseball America.
This is the latest in a string of preseason honors for Trahan, who was also tabbed as a preseason All-American by Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball.
Dylan Butler, who hit .298 with six home runs a year ago, joined Trahan on the preseason All-SBC team. The Cajuns were one of five teams to put two players on the preseason all conference team.
“It’s great to see Butler get recognition for the hard work that he has put in over the last three years here, and then of course (Trahan) and the work he has put in the last two years,” Robichaux said.
The selection of Elkins and Hamilton as preseason players of the year didn’t come as much of a surprise, since they both are the reigning players of the year in the conference.
Elkins socked 24 homers in her first year in a Cajuns uniform — second most in the country — while also driving in 79 runs a year ago.
Hamilton fired 23 complete games in 2014 and finished the year with a league-high 29 wins.
The softball team finished with a league-high four players on the preseason all-conference team. Joining Hamilton and Elkins were second baseman Hayley Hayden and outfielder Shellie Landry as at-large players.
Softball kicks off its season at home February 6-8, where it will host three other teams in the Louisiana Classic tournament. The baseball team begins the 2015 season with four road games, starting with a three-game series at UT-San Antonio.
Texas State junior Lucas Humpal was named the baseball preseason Pitcher of the Year.
SBC PRESEASON POLLS
1. UL-Lafayette (8) 114
2. Texas State (1) 94
3. Arkansas State 87
4. UT-Arlington 80
5. Troy 78
6. Georgia Southern (2) 77
7. South Alabama 71
8. Georgia State 35
9. UL Monroe 34
10. UALR 31
11. Appalachian State 25
1. UL-Lafayette (7) 79
2. South Alabama (2) 74
3. Georgia State 57
4. Texas State 48
5. Georgia Southern 44
6. Troy 37
7. UL Monroe 27
8. UT Arlington 24
9. Appalachian State 15
All-SBC PRESEASON TEAMS
SP: David Owen, Arkansas State
SP: Kevin Hill, South Alabama
SP: Lucas Humpal, Texas State
RP: Marc Skinner, Troy
C: Joey Roach, Georgia State
1B: Matt Burgess, Arkansas State
2B: Darien McLemore, UT Arlington
SS: Blake Trahan, UL-Lafayette
3B: Matt Rose, Georgia State
OF: Aaron Mizell, Georgia Southern
OF: Dylan Butler, UL-Lafayette
OF: Cole Gleason, South Alabama
DH: David Hall, Troy
UTIL: Cory Geisler, Texas State
Player of the Year
Blake Trahan, UL-Lafayette
Pitcher of the Year
Lucas Humpal, Texas State
P: Christina Hamilton, UL-Lafayette
P: Farish Beard, South Alabama
C: Lexie Elkins, UL-Lafayette
1B: Lauren Coleman, Georgia State
2B: Miyuki Navarrete, UL-Monroe
SS: Taylor Anderson, Georgia State
3B: Courtney Harris, Texas State
OF: Rochelle Roberts, UL-Monroe
OF: Blair Johnson, South Alabama
OF: Stephanie Pilkington, South Alabama
DP: Kortney Koroll, Texas State
At-Large: Taylor Rogers, Georgia Southern; Haley Hayden, UL-Lafayette; Shellie Landry UL-Lafayette; Alexis Cacioppo, UL-Monroe
Player of the Year
Lexie Elkins, UL-Lafayette
Pitcher of the Year
Christina Hamilton, UL-Lafayette