Madison Monson (copy) (copy)

Madison Monson, a former Walker High player for LSU Eunice, was selected to the All-Region 23 team.

Madison Monson can't even tell you how many home runs she hit in her Walker High career, but she knows it wasn't many.

Much has changed in two years.

Having completed her career at LSU-Eunice with 33 career long balls, Monson will head to Southeastern Louisiana next season as a player whose explosive left-handed bat is a threat to any pitcher she faces.

Monson said she originally started batting left-handed to take advantage of her speed as a slap-hitter.

"I just took it the next step," said Monson, who switched from the right side to the left in youth ball. "I don't bunt or slap anymore. My job these days is to hit away."

Her penchant for going deep played a key role in LSUE's winning the NJCAA Division II national championship late last month.

Monson finished the season with a .300 average to go with her team-high 14 bombs. She also had a team-high 58 RBIs.

For her efforts, Monson was selected to the All-Region 23 team.

Monson, whose 33 career homers rank second in LSUE history, played a key role in getting the Bengals off to a fast start in the national title game when she laced a full-count pitch for a two-run homer in the first inning. LSUE went on to a 10-5 win, celebrating its sixth national title overall and fifth in seven years.

"I did not go up there with the intention of hitting a home run," Monson said of her big moment in the championship game, batting in the three-hole. "My mindset was to go up there and try to move the runner over."

With its five wins in the national tournament, LSUE completed a 52-6 season that included a season-ending 17-game winning streak.

Monson had three homers, eight RBIs, and scored seven times in those five games, earning a place on the All-National Tournament team.

Cook heads to NBPA Top 100

Walker High star Jalen Cook was in select company this week as he joined other top basketball prospects at the annual NBPA Top 100 camp.

Cook was scheduled to leave Tuesday for Charlottesville, Virginia, where he would be coached by current and former NBA players who run practice. The camp also includes college and pro scouts who evaluate the players.

Cook, entering his senior year, was among 100 high-school prospects invited.

"This one is a big deal — a very big deal," Cook's father Eric said of the invitation. "He was very excited, and we ere very excited as a family."

A two-sport standout who could also play college football, Cook averaged 29.5 points as a junior at Walker while leading the Wildcats to their second straight Class 5A title game. He was named Louisiana's Mr. Basketball, becoming the first Livingston Parish player to win the award since Tasmin Mitchell in 2005.

The NBPA Top 100 was created in 1994 by the NBA Players Association. It is aimed to not only improve players' on-court abilities, but also to help prepare them for off-court challenges they may face at the college and pro level.

Players receive instruction on a wide range of topics that includes stress management, sex education, handling recruiting pressures and dressing for success.

More than 300 players from the camp have gone on to NBA careers.

Ricard named permanent coach at Scotlandville

Former Walker High football coach Lester Ricard will be on the opposite sideline this season as the new head coach at District 4-5A rival Scotlandville.

Ricard in February accepted a position at Scotlandville as associate head coach/head coach in waiting, but was quickly elevated to permanent head coach and led the Hornets through spring practice. He takes over for Jules Sullen, who coached the team for only one season. Scotlandville went 4-6 last year.

Ricard served as Walker's coach in 2017 and 2018, resigning two games into his second season.

Scott Hotard covers sports for The Livingston-Tangipahoa Advocate. He can be contacted at shotard44@gmail.com or livingston@theadvocate.com.