My 2012 All-Sun Belt Conference Softball Team
The 2012 All-Sun Belt Conference Team will officially be released on Tuesday in Boca Raton, Florida, site of the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which gets underway on Wednesday.
Before the league releases its honorees, I wanted to give you my team.
I'll say this from the outset; the All-Conference team will vary from this one.
People like spreading the wealth, which I get, to a certain extent, so players from schools other than Louisiana will get the nod over players from UL, if they have similar statistics.
I'm not criticizing that line of thought. It happens in every sport, on every level.
Willie Mays and Hank Aaron probably should have won at least one more Most Valuable Player award in baseball than they did, but voters just looked for reasons not to vote for them, because they either got spoiled by their great play, or just got tired of voting for them, or both. Same thing with Michael Jordan in basketball, and Wayne Gretzky in hockey.
So, don't expect any Cajun players to get the benefit of the doubt in the voting.
That being said, I'm basing my team strictly on merit, and I'm telling you now that I'll have a number of players from Louisiana on it.
I'm sure I'll get some criticism, and be called a "homer", and truth be told, I probably am to a certain extent, but I'm trying to be as fair as possible, and I don't think it's fair to not vote for a player simply because she plays on a dominant team that people get tired of voting for.
Hey, Louisiana is 46-3 on the year! They're fifth-ranked in the country in one poll! There's a reason why people!
My team will consist of a player at every position, including three outfielders, with three pitchers. I will not name a utility player.
I do think you can make an argument for a non-UL player at catcher, first base, second base, and one outfield spot. Other than that, I think you have no choice but to vote for Cajun players at shortstop, third base, two outfield spots, and two pitching spots (if you name only two pitchers for your team then UL should be guaranteed only one spot, as you have a legitimate argument for the other spot) .
Okay, here's my 2012 All-Sun Belt Conference Softball Team:
FIRST BASE-MATTE HAACK-JR-LOUISIANA---You can make an argument for Maddelyn Fraley of North Texas, who has 12 homers on the year, but Haack has the highest batting average among first basemen in the league (.350), the most hits (56), the most runs scored (33), and the most RBI's (44), to go along with seven homers. Fraley has had a really good year, but Haack tops her in batting average, RBI's, runs scored, o-base percentage, and stolen bases. That being said, I bet Fraley gets the vote.
SECOND BASE: PAIGE CORMIER-SR-LOUISIANA---Again, you could make a solid argument for a non-Cajun here, as Troy's Sarah Shields has been in the top ten in the league in hitting all year long (.351). But I'm going with Cormier, who leads all second basemen in homers (9), and runs batted in (42). I should also point out that while Shields hit for a much better average than Cormier this year, their respective on-base percentages were about the same (.412/.397). The bottom line is that Cormier bettered Shields in more categories, including homers, RBI's, runs scored, stolen bases, and slugging percentage. Shields will probably get the nod here, but if we didn't know who Shields and Cormier played for, and we compared their stats, calling Shields "Player A" and Cormier "Player B" I think you'd vote for Player B.
SHORTSTOP---NERISSA MYERS---LOUISIANA---There are some very good shortstops in the Sun belt Conference, but this one is a complete no-brainer. Myers leads all league shortstops in hitting (.380), hits (57), runs scored (71), walks (34), home runs (10), RBI's (63), slugging pct. (.693), on-base percentage (.515), and total bases (104). All that, plus her incredible defense makes her not only the obvious choice at shortstop, but also a candidate for Player of the Year honors. Myers is THAT GOOD!!! She should be given All-American consideration.
THIRD BASE---NATALIE FERNANDEZ---LOUISIANA---How can you not vote for the leading hitter in the conference (.431)? Here's something for you; Fernandez currently has the highest batting average in UL softball history. Think about that for just a second; I mean think of all the great hitters that have worn a Cajun softball uniform, from Kathy Morton, to Stephanie DeFeo, Danielle Gomez, Holly Tankersley, Alana Addison, and Chirsti Orgeron. But it's Fernandez who has the highest career batting average. I understand that's only through two years, but that should tell you how good of a start Fernandez has had, and how great of a year she's had this year. How could you possibly leave off the leading hitter in the league? Well, you can't. Fernandez also leads third basemen in hits (62) and on-base-percentage (.500). She's also made only six errors defensively all season. I think this one is pretty obvious as well.
OUTFIELD---ASHLEY McCLAIN---FIU---McClain is the first of two non-Louisiana players on my team. She's also, in my opinion, the best player in the conference not wearing a UL uniform. McClain is just really good in every aspect of the game. She's fifth in the conference in hitting (.370), to go along with eight homers, and 37 RBI's, plus she's a really good defensive player. McClain is a national Player of the Year finalist and that honor is earned.
OUTFIELD---KATIE SMITH---LOUISIANA---Being a slapper, Smith gets overlooked in UL's high-powered offense, but she's the spark-plug of that attack, and she deserves to be on this team. She's second in the league in hitting (.419), which ranks first among outfielders. She also leads the conference in hits (67), and ranks second among outfielders in on-base percentage (.481), runs scored (55), and stolen bases (18). I don't think Smith is a lock to make the all-conference team, but she should be. If she's not, it's due to one of two reason; she's a slapper, and she's a UL player.
OUTFIELD---CHRISTI ORGERON---LOUISIANA---Orgeron will not only win Player of The Year in the Sun Belt Conference, but she'll get some votes for National Player of the Year honors. She's hitting a (.391) , with 20 homers, and 89 RBI'S. She has more RBI'S than any other player in the conference. In the league, she ranks third in hitting, first in slugging percentage (.872), third in on-base percentage (.500), second in runs scored (63), third in hits (61), first in runs batted in, first in homers, and first in total bases (136). Anybody that doesn't mark her down for their own all-conference team needs to have their head examined.
CATCHER---KARAVIN DEW---WKU---Dew only has 20 RBI's, but she's hitting a .329, with 18 stolen bases. To go along with that, she's a fantastic defensive catcher. I could make an argument for Sarah Draheim of UL, who has more homers and RBI's, and is pretty good behind the plate in her own right, but I told you I was going to be as fair as I could possibly be, and a great defensive catcher like Dew, who hits over a .300 is just somebody I can't overlook. How good of a year did Dew have? Well, like I said, Draheim is good, but Dew outhit her by 60 points. You have to go with Dew.
PITCHER---JORDAN WALLACE---LOUISIANA---Okay, so nobody's perfect, but Wallace was awfully close this year. She finished 23-1. Wallace led the league in wins and batting average against (.177), and finished second in era. (2.15).
PITCHER---ASHLEY BRIGNAC---LOUISIANA---Brignac has had a great season in her own right. She's 20-2, with a 2.22 era., plus she's third in the league in batting average against (.222). Brignac is on of the all-time greats in the league, and deserves some acclaim.
PITCHER---Hannah Campbell---SOUTH ALABAMA---Campbell has had a really good year, going 19-10, with a 2.00 era. If you name a three-person pitching staff, like me, she's a no-brainer to make the team. After all, she topped the conference in earned run average. If you only name two, then you have an interesting argument. Luckily for me, I always name three pitchers.
1B---MADDELYN FRALEY---NORTH TEXAS
SS---BRITTANY FOWLER---SOUTH ALABAMA
OF---KELSEY WOODRUFF---MIDDLE TENNESSEE
PLAYER OF THE YEAR---CHRISTI ORGERON---LOUISIANA
PITCHER OF THE YEAR---JORDAN WALLACE---LOUISIANA
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR---JORDAN WALLACE---LOUISIANA
COACH OF THE YEAR---MIKE & STEFNI LOTIEF---LOUISIANA