NEW ORLEANS – The Nicholls State University softball program earned two more prestigious awards for their outstanding 2016 campaign as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) named head coach Angel Santiago Coach of the Year, while Amanda Gianelloni was tabbed Freshman of the Year.
A total of four Colonels earned recognition on the all-state teams, led by Gianelloni who was named First Team at shortstop. Senior pitcher Hannah Haydel landed on Second Team, and senior outfielder Danielle Phillips and freshman utility player Veronica Villifranco received honorable mention.
In his fifth season, Santiago led Nicholls to its best campaign since 1998 as the Colonels finished with a 39-17 overall record, which was the 30th best winning percentage in the NCAA. Santiago was also named Coach of the Year by the Southland Conference after he led the Red and Gray to a 21-5 mark in conference play and a second-place finish, helped by five series sweeps. In addition to leading Nicholls to its first postseason appearance since 2010, the Colonels posted consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2009-10. Santiago is the second Colonel coach to win the award, joining two-time winner Cathy Compton (1992, ’95).
Gianelloni duplicated her Southland recognition by earning both Freshman of the Year and First Team honors. A native of Napoleonville, Gianelloni had a remarkable rookie campaign as she hit .391 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. She proved to be one of the best offensive players in the SLC, ranking in the top 10 in batting average (4th), triples (2nd), slugging (5th), runs and on-base percentage (7th) and RBIs (9th), while also placing 11th in doubles and 12th in home runs. Her six triples on the season was ninth-best in the NCAA, and she also added a grand slam and reached base in 20 consecutive games. Gianelloni is only the second Colonel to be named LSWA Freshman of the Year and first since Phyllis Guedry in 1990.
Haydel, a native of Ama, La., was the Colonels’ first 20-win pitcher since 1998 as she went 23-8 on the season en route to being named Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year. She finished the season ranked 18th in the NCAA in ERA at 1.53, helping the Colonel staff to the fifth-best ERA in the country at 1.89. Haydel also ranked 25th in the NCAA in victories and hits allowed, and in her two starts against top 25 teams, she had a 1.08 ERA, including a four-hit performance in 2-0 loss to World Series participant LSU.
Phillips made the switch from second base to outfield, earning All-Southland for the third time in her career after hitting .372 on the year. Batting No. 1 and 2 in the lineup, the Resaca, Ga. native ranked fifth in the Southland in hits, had 22 multi-hit games, and was second on the team in runs scored (29) and third in RBIs (21).
Villafranco was used primarily as a pinch hitter before starting late in the season, batting .407 with 24 hits, six doubles and 15 RBIs in 59 at-bats. A native of Southlake, Texas, she had eight multi-hits and an eight-game hitting streak, posted a .508 slugging percentage and was one of just five freshman to be named All-Southland.
2016 ALL-LOUISIANA COLLEGIATE SOFTBALL TEAM
Pitcher: Carley Hoover (LSU); Alex Stewart (UL Lafayette)
Catcher: Lexie Elkins (UL Lafayette)
First Base: Sandra Simmons (LSU)
Second Base: Haley Hayden (UL Lafayette)
Third Base: Bianka Bell (LSU)
Shortstop: Amanda Gianelloni (Nicholls)
Outfield: Aleah Craighton (UL Lafayette)
Outfield: Shellie Landry (UL Lafayette)
Outfield: Rochelle Roberts (ULM)
Designated Player: Sahvanna Jaquish (LSU)
Utility: Emily Vincent (McNeese)
Pitcher: Jamie Allred (McNeese), Hannah Haydel (Nicholls)
Catcher: Erika Piancastelli (McNeese)
First Base: Kim Gonzalez (LSU-Alexandria)
Second Base: Hailey Drew (McNeese)
Third Base: Heather Bunn (LSU-Alexandria)
Third Base: Kara Gremillion (UL Lafayette)
Shortstop: DJ Sanders (UL Lafayette)
Outfield: Katie Lacour (Southeastern Louisiana)
Outfield: Bailey Landry (LSU)
Outfield: Morgan Turkoly (Louisiana Tech)
Designated Player: Sara Corbello (UL Lafayette)
Utility: Allie Walljasper (LSU)
Pitcher: Bailey Allen, Louisiana Tech; Sydney Smith, LSU
Catcher: Kellsi Kloss, LSU
First Base: Amye Barre, Louisiana-Monroe; Mattie Stine, Louisiana College
Shortstop: Julinn Torres, LSU-Alexandria
Outfield: Kellye Kincannon, Northwestern State; Danielle Phillips, Nicholls; Marisa Taunton, McNeese
Designated Player: Morgan Catron, McNeese
Utility: Anna Cross, Louisiana Tech; Veronica Villafranco, Nicholls
Hitter of the Year: Lexie Elkins, UL Lafayette
Co-Pitcher of the Year: Carley Hoover, LSU; Alex Stewart, UL Lafayette
Freshman of the Year: Amanda Gianelloni, Nicholls
Coach of the Year: Angel Santiago, Nicholls