Lady Bengals ready for repeat
Saturday the Lady Bengal sophomores will get their rings as 2016 NJCAA Division II softball national champions.
“I hope they stay hungry and want another one.” LSUE head coach Andy Lee said.
“We have won it four times in the last six years and I feel this could be another good year.
“I think they are hungry and I feel they are talented enough to get back (to the world series).”
In 2011, the Lady Bengals won their first national championship and LSUE finished as runners-up in 2012.
LSUE won back-to-back titles in 2013-14, but failed to reach the World Series in 2015.
According to Lee, that dissapointment seemed to serve as motivation for the sophomores as the Lady Bengals earned their fourth championship this past season with a 12-4 win over Region 23 rival Jones County Junior College.
LSUE will have 13 sophomores returning including All-Americans Rebecca Skains (West Ouachita) and Darby Bishop (Hickory, Mississippi).
“With four pitchers, two All-American hitters and a talented group around them,” Lee said, “we have a strong nucleus to lead us.”
Skains was the MVP and Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the World Series as the Lady Bengals captured the 2016 title.
Skains hit .477 on the season with a school record 25 home runs, while playing a strong defensive first base.
She also had 83 RBI, 22 doubles, three triples, 103 hits and 82 runs scored. Skains finished the 2016 season with 23 stolen bases with 19 walks and only 10 strikeouts in 216 at bats.
The Lady Bengal first baseman had a .993 fielding percentage with just two errors on the season with 271 out-outs.
Bishop was named the nation’s best designated player as she led LSUE with a .480 batting average and finished the season with 80 RBI, 12 home runs, two triples, 15 doubles, 64 runs scored and 95 hits.
Bishop had 12 walks and only four strikeouts in 198 plate appearances.
Lee added he was happy to see the contributions from centerfielder Bobbi Smith (West Ouachita), second baseman Molly Wilson (Castor), left fielder Jeanmarie Angelle (Cecilia) along with catcher Savannah Lejeune (Catholic High of Pointe Coupee) as well as shortstop Abby Mondy (Lafayette) and infielder Hope Vizinat (Dutchtown) last season.
Smith and Wilson were both named to the World Series All-Tournament team for their strong performances during the tournament.
Smith finished the year with a .353 batting average with 23 RBI and 24 stolen bases.
Wilson hit .348 with eight home runs, 44 RBI, and 11 steals.
Angelle hit .343 with 40 RBI, nine home runs, 12 doubles and 12 steals.
Lejeune hit .273 with 13 RBI as strong presence behind the plate.
Mondy hit .450 with 27 hits, 10 steals and 24 runs scored.
Vizinat batted .320 with 25 RBI, six doubles and 20 runs scored.
Abigail Leonards (Iota), Hannah Vidallier (North Vermilion), Mary Guillory (St. Louis), Elizabeth Fontenot (Port Barre) and Savannah Cates all bring college pitching experience back this season.
Leonards was the workhorse for the Lady Bengals as she finished the season with a 24-4 record.
Leonards had 78 strikeouts, 42 walks ana llowed 67 earned runs over 173.1 innings.
Vidallier was 9-0 last season with 18 strikeouts, 13 walks and 25 earned runs over 53.2 innings.
Cates was 8-0 last season with 45 strikeouts, 21 walks and 24 earned runs over 54.2 innings.
Fontenot was 2-0 with 23 strikeouts, 20 walks and 28 earned runs over 51.1 innings.
Guillory could see more action early this season as Fontenot recovers from elbow surgery.
Wilson could also see some time in the circle for the Lady Bengals, Lee said.
“They have experience and have been through the grind, “ Lee said of his sophomores. “They are very hard workers and very driven.”
Lee said he is excited with freshmen catchers Haley Godeaux (Cecilia), Lakyn Wales (Zachary) Alexa Lonibos (St. Joseph’s Academy) along with power hitter rightfielder Rae’Shaun Melancon (Ascension).
Darian Doucet (Sulphur) is expected to be a ultility infielder, while Mima Doucet (Notre Dame) will see action at third base.
Lee described Sierra Gasca (West Ouachita) as a “slap hitter and a speedy outfielder.”
Emily Henderson (North Desoto) and Ally Howard (Live Oak) will contribute as talented outfielders.
Freshman infielder Maleah Saucedo (Orangefield) and outfielder Abby Trahan (Hackberry) are also expected to help the team.
Victoria Burns (Beau Chene) and Alexandra Cifreo (Walker) will redshirt this season according to the coach.
“We have a good balance of power and speed,” the coach said. “It makes the games go better when you have both and aren’t depending on just one aspect to carry you.”