Bianka Bell found a spot on the All-Louisiana collegiate softball team twice before. But her junior season was record-breaking, easily her most impressive so far.
As a result, she was selected the state’s Hitter of the Year.
In leading LSU to its first Women’s College World Series berth since 2012 and its fourth overall, Bell hit .459 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs this season. She had 36 extra-base hits — only nine fewer than her first two seasons combined — and became the Tigers’ career leader in home runs.
“She’s finally in the right spot mentally,” LSU coach Beth Torina said of Bell, “and it’s just been fun watching her be one of the best players in the country.”
A Louisiana Sports Writers Association panel of media and sports publicists selected the All-Louisiana team, based players’ performance through the regular season and conference tournaments.
LSU, which finished third in the WCWS and 52-14 overall, won three of the state’s five major awards. Freshman right-hander Carley Hoover was chosen Pitcher of the Year, and Torina was named Coach of the Year for the first time.
LSU is the first to win the hitting, pitching and coaching awards since UL-Lafayette in 2008. LSU also swept those three awards in 2007.
The other major awards went to catchers.
McNeese State’s Erika Piancastelli won Freshman of the Year, and Louisiana Tech’s Krysta Tutsch was chosen Newcomer of the Year — but neither made the first team. That honor went to UL-Lafayette junior Lexie Elkins, who cranked 32 homers.
LSU and UL-Lafayette, which reached the super regionals before falling to Auburn, tied for the most first-team selections for the second straight year. Each team had five.
It’s the eighth straight year in which the Ragin’ Cajuns led or co-led the state in first-teamers.
Hoover was the only freshman to make the All-Louisiana first team. She was 14-4 with a 1.85 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 125 innings. She pitched 11 complete games, winning 10 of them.
Torina, in her fourth LSU season, led the Tigers to their best-ever start, 25-0, and their first No. 1 national ranking, which they held for three weeks.
Piancastelli hit .430 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs, slugged .905 and had a .541 on-base percentage. She was Player of the Year, Hitter of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the Southland Conference.
Tutsch, a transfer from Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College, outpolled LSU-Alexandria pitcher Marci West 9-6 to win Newcomer of the Year. Tutsch missed 15 games because of injury but hit .341 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs.
She threw out 15-of-31 runners attempting to steal.
LSU’s other first-team selections are outfielder A.J. Andrews, outfielder Bailey Landry and designated player Sahvanna Jaquish. UL-Lafayette has three-fourths of the first-team infield — Kelsey Vincent at first base, Haley Hayden at second and Samantha Walsh at third. The Cajuns also placed Jordan Wallace, the 2013 Pitcher of the Year and a three-time first-team selection.
The other first-team selections are Northwestern State outfielder Kellye Kincannon and McNeese State pitcher/outfielder Emily Vincent, selected at utility.