SOFTBALL: Five Cajuns named NFCA All-Central Region

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LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball had five student-athletes named to

LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball had five student-athletes named to the 2017 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-Central Region Team, the organization announced Thursday.

Aleah Craighton, Haley Hayden and DJ Sanders were the 14th-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns’ representatives on the NFCA All-Central Region First Team. Lexie Comeaux was a second team selection and Alex Stewart received third-team honors.

The all-region awards honor softball student-athletes from the NFCA’s 10 regions with first, second team and selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams.

Each of the Ragin’ Cajuns honorees now become eligible for selection to the 2017 NFCA Division I All-American squads.

The 2017 NFCA Division I All-America teams will be announced at approximately 4 p.m. (CDT) on Wednesday, May 31, via NFCA.org.

The Ragin’ Cajuns five all-region selections were third-most in the Central Region, trailing only Oklahoma (seven) and Baylor (six). It’s the fourth straight season (2014-17) that Louisiana produces at least four all-region honorees.

Hayden, who returned to the first team for the first time since 2015, received the fourth all-region honor of her career. She’s the first Cajun since the 1990s to earn all-region all four years of a career, joining an elite list in program history that includes: Lynn Britton, Stephanie DeFeo, Kyla Hall, Lana Jimenez, Kathy Morton and Dorsey Steamer.

This season Hayden continued the model of consistency that’s defined her career by reaching 60 runs and hits for the fourth straight season and 50 RBI for the third time. She became the school’s all-time runs scored leader and pushed her career totals in runs, hits and RBI past the 200 mark.

Sanders, a second team pick in 2016, moved up to the first team following a strong display at the plate and in the field this season. The Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and USA Softball Player of the Year Top 10 finalist produced 28 home runs and 78 RBI prior to NCAA postseason play and has committed only six errors at shortstop over 142 total chances (56 PO, 80 A, 6 E, .958 FLD%).

Craighton grabbed her second career all-region award, repeating as a first team selection. She continues to be a reliable source of power and run production, reaching double digit home runs (18) and generating 40-plus RBI (53) for a third straight season.

Stewart ends her career as a back-to-back all-region pick (first team in 2016), while Comeaux garners her first career selection.

Stewart (25-3, 1.66 ERA) reached 20 wins for the second straight season (29-6 in 2016) and has held foes to two earned runs or less in 23 of 25 starts. She posted a 15-0 record in Sun Belt Conference regular season play in leading Louisiana to conference championship.

Comeaux, who moved to catcher in January after an injury opened up the position, is hitting .351 with 10 homers and 47 RBI and has helped control the opponent’s running game with only 23 stolen base attempts against her.

Louisiana (45-6) is set to make its 19th consecutive appearance, and 27th overall in the past 28 seasons, in the NCAA Softball Tournament Friday-Sunday, May 19-21 at the Baton Rouge Regional. The Ragin’ Cajuns face in-state foe McNeese (42-16) in the opening round at 3 p.m. on Friday live on ESPN3.

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