Ragin’ Cajuns Chosen Preseason Sun Belt Favorite for 2017

STORY / PHOTO COURTESY: RAGINCAJUNS.COM
STORY / PHOTO COURTESY: RAGINCAJUNS.COM

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball was selected as the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite for the 2017 season. The poll, released by the conference office on Monday, was voted upon by the league’s 10 head coaches.

The Ragin’ Cajuns received all 10 of the first place votes in the SBC’s preseason poll and sat atop the ranking with 100 total points. Texas State, the opponent in last season’s SBC Tournament championship game, came in second place with 87 points.

Louisiana finished the 2016 campaign with a 46-9 overall record and with a 21-2 Sun Belt mark claimed its 14th championship in the 16 years of league competition since 2001.

The Ragin’ Cajuns return two NFCA All-Americans (Aleah Craighton, Alex Stewart), five starters in the lineup and the entire pitching staff from last season’s squad which collected the program’s fifth consecutive NCAA Super Regionals appearance.

The core group of returnees include career .360-hitter Haley Hayden, home run threats Aleah Craighton and DJ Sanders, who both clubbed 18 home runs last season, and Kara Gremillion, who finished the 2016 season as one of the team’s hottest hitters (hit .457 in May).

2016 All-American and Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Alex Stewart (29-6, 1.94 ERA) is joined by veterans Victoria Brown, Macey Smith and Kylee Jo Trahan, as well as sophomore Alison Deville and redshirt freshman Summer Ellyson. Stewart posted a 13-0 start in Sun Belt play to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns to the conference championship by April 30 last season, and ended the season with a Sun Belt-best 16 victories in conference play (16-1, 0.66 ERA).

Louisiana opens the 2017 season on Friday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. vs. DePaul in the 31st Annual Louisiana Classics at Lamson Park. It will mark the beginning of a season-opening 23-game homestand at Lamson Park that runs through March 7 and includes three tournaments, a Top 25 weekend series against Alabama (Feb. 17-19) and a midweek doubleheader with Baylor (March 7).

Season tickets remain on sale and can be purchased via phone at (337) 265-2357, online at RaginCajuns.com using Account Manager or by visiting the Cajundome Box Office in-person Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and extended hours during Ragin’ Cajuns basketball events.

Individual game ticket sales are scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 30. Those purchases can be made via phone at (800) 745-3000, online at RaginCajuns.com or by visiting the Cajundome Box Office in person Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more information on Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball, as well as all of Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball),Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSoftball).

2017 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Rank Team Points (first-place votes)
1 Louisiana 100 (10)
2 Texas State 87
3 South Alabama 80
4 Georgia State 68
5 Georgia Southern 55
6 Troy 44
7 UTA 41
8 Coastal Carolina 32
9 ULM 30
10 Appalachian State 13

 

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