Ragin’ Cajuns sweep weekly Sun Belt softball awards after series win over Alabama

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LAFAYETTE – Both DJ Sanders and Alyssa Denham played a key role in No. 16 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball’s series win over Top 5-ranked Alabama last weekend at Lamson Park and were rewarded for their efforts by the Sun Belt Conference in the release of the weekly awards on Tuesday.

Sanders, who closed the series with back-to-back multiple-hit games highlighted by two home runs in the series clincher on Sunday, was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week. The Ragin’ Cajuns shortstop went 4-for-7 at the plate with two home runs and four RBI in the two Ragin’ Cajuns wins.

In the first start of her freshman season against a ranked team, Denham pitched a two-hit shutout of the Crimson Tide on Sunday to secure the series win – the highlight of 12 innings of work with only five hits allowed over the weekend – and that landed her this week’s Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week honor.

“This is a testament to, not only these two kids’ hard work, but the entire group for how hard they continue to work,” Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball head coach Michael Lotief explained. “Even after having some adversity, and struggle, our kids continue to show resolve to work hard and get better.”

Sanders picked up her second career SBC weekly honor, adding to recognition received last season on March 8, 2016. It’s the first career honor of Denham’s young career as she becomes the first Ragin’ Cajuns freshman to earn the SBC’s pitcher award since Jordan Wallace in 2012.

Adding in this week’s awards, three different Ragin’ Cajuns have now been honored this season with a weekly award from the Sun Belt Conference. Sanders and Denham join Kelli Martinez whose Louisiana Classics-leading nine-hit effort during opening weekend landed her player of the week honors on Feb. 14.

Denham recorded a first-pitch strike off 24 of the 28 batters she faced on Sunday and needed only 86 pitches the entire contest to capture the first win over a ranked team in her young career. She held the Crimson Tide hitless over the final five innings of play.

Alabama did not get a runner past second base the entire game and was held scoreless for the first time this season and for only the second time in a non-conference regular season game since 2015.

“Individual awards are hard to put in context without looking at the entire team,” Lotief stressed. “I think Alyssa’s success as a true freshman – who was not very highly recruited or decorated – is not only a testament to her hard work, but to the structure, system and her sisters around her. They have nurtured her, encouraged her and helped her to get better.”

In the series-clinching 7-0 win, Sanders provided Louisiana with the lead on a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off of Crimson Tide ace Alexis Osorio. She belted a second homer off of Osorio, hitting a solo shot in the fifth inning.

Sunday marked the second straight game that Sanders jumpstarted the Louisiana offense on the way to a victory. In Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader she delivered an RBI single in the first inning that opened the scoring on the way to an 11-2 (6 inn.) win.

“DJ knows what the grind is and we as a community and softball team understand that she’s going to hit her stride,” Lotief noted. “We know what her talent level is and that when she starts to gain confidence she is going to have a great season in front of her.”

Denham’s selection makes her the 16th different pitcher in program history, and 39th individual overall, to earn a weekly award from the SBC.

Louisiana has now claimed 80 player of the week honors and 75 pitcher of the week honors since the Sun Belt Conference began bestowing the honor in 2000.

No. 16 Louisiana (6-3) remains at Lamson Park this week for the Mardi Gras Invitational presented by DoubleTree scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 23-26. The Ragin’ Cajuns begin play in the event, which continues a season-opening 23-game homestand, on Thursday with games against Drake at 4:30 p.m. and Bowling Green at 6:45 p.m.

There are still season tickets available for purchase. Season ticket packages, starting at $121, remain on sale and can be purchased in person at the Cajundome Box Office, on RaginCajuns.com using Account Manager or by phone at (337) 265-2357.

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 RAGIN’ CAJUNS SUN BELT PLAYER/PITCHER OF THE WEEK HONORS
Feb. 14 – Kelli Martinez (Player of the Week)
Feb. 21 – DJ Sanders (Player of the Week)
Feb. 21 – Alyssa Deham (Pitcher of the Week)

RAGIN’ CAJUNS SOFTBALL SUN BELT PLAYER OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
2017: Kelli Martinez (2/14); DJ Sanders (2/21)
2016: Lexie Elkins (2/16); DJ Sanders (3/8); Shellie Landry (3/28); Aleah Craighton (4/11); Kara Gremillion (5/9)
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)

RAGIN’ CAJUNS SOFTBALL SUN BELT PITCHER OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
2017: Alyssa Denham (2/21)
2016: Kylee Jo Trahan (3/1); Alex Stewart (4/4); Alex Stewart (5/9)
2015: Jordan Wallace (2/16); Christina Hamilton (2/23); Jordan Wallace (3/16)
2014: Christina Hamilton (3/17); Christina Hamilton (4/21)
2013: Jordan Wallace (2/18); Jordan Wallace (4/8); Jordan Wallace (4/15); Jordan Wallace (5/6)
2012: Ashley Brignac (2/27); Jordan Wallace (3/19); Jordan Wallace (4/9); Ashley Brignac (4/16); Jordan Wallace (4/23); Jordan Wallace (4/30)
2011: Ashley Brignac (2/14); Christina Hamilton (2/21); Ashley Brignac (2/28); Ashley Brignac (3/21); Ashley Brignac (3/28); Ashley Brignac (4/18); Ashley Brignac (5/2); Ashley Brignac (5/9)
2010: Donna Bourgeois (2/15); Brittany Cuevas (4/19)
2009: Donna Bourgeois (2/9); Donna Bourgeois (2/16); Ashley Brignac (3/16); Donna Bourgeois (4/20); Donna Bourgeois (4/27)
2008: Ashley Brignac (2/11); Ashley Brignac (3/10); Ashley Brignac (3/17); Brittany Cuevas (3/24); Donna Bourgeois (4/14); Ashley Brignac (4/21); Donna Bourgeois (4/28)
2007: Brittany Cuevas (2/26); Brittany Cuevas (3/12); Brittany Cuevas (4/23); Brittany Cuevas (5/7)
2006: Krystal Lewallen (2/14); Ashley Kirchberg (2/21); Ashley Kirchberg (4/3); Ashley Kirchberg (4/24); Ashley Kirchberg (5/8)
2005: Brooke Mitchell (2/21); Brooke Mitchell (2/28); Brooke Mitchell (3/7); Brooke Mitchell (3/14); Heather Bobbit (4/18); Brooke Mitchell (4/25)
2004: Brooke Mitchell (2/17); Brooke Mitchell (2/24); Brooke Mitchell (3/2); Brooke Mitchell (3/9); Brooke Mitchell (3/22); Brooke Mitchell (4/5); Brooke Mitchell (4/12); Brooke Mitchell (4/19)
2003: Brooke Mitchell (2/18); Brooke Mitchell (2/25); Michael Parrott (3/4); Brooke Mitchell (3/31); Afton Thoms (5/5)
2002: Melissa Coronado (4/8)
2001: Melissa Coronado (3/19); Melissa Coronado (3/26); Micah Barbato (4/16); Melissa Coronado (4/30)

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