Jul 29, 2014 3:03 PM by UL Sports Information
NEW ORLEANS - After recording the most historic year in school history in athletics, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns athletic department will be presented with a special award as the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame hosts its annual banquet on Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The award will be one of four presented to the Ragin' Cajuns with softball's Christina Hamilton receiving the Corbett Award as the top female athlete in the state of Louisiana, baseball's Tony Robichaux earning the state's College Coach of the Year, and men's basketball's Elfrid Payton, who was named the Allstate Sugar Bowl Amateur Athlete of the Month for March.
Four Special Award winners will be recognized at the event, in addition to the Hall of Fame class, the Corbett Award winners and multiple annual award winners. The Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The Ragin' Cajuns will be presented with a special award after its unprecedented success this past year. Louisiana captured five conference championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in four sports, along with collecting a New Orleans Bowl victory. The Ragin' Cajuns were the only athletic program in the country to achieve four elite goals: win a football bowl game, send a team to the NCAA basketball tournament, host NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals in both baseball and softball, and send a team to the College World Series.
Robichaux, the second Ragin' Cajuns coach in the past three years to earn the Outstanding College Coach Award, claimed his fourth Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Ragin' Cajuns to the most regular-season wins in school history. After earning the honor, he continued his sensational season, guiding Louisiana to the Sun Belt Tournament title.
Following the league championship, the Ragin' Cajuns climbed to No. 1 in the nation in the three major polls (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and USA Today Coaches). The Cajuns, who were the No. 6 national seed for the NCAA Championship, went on to win the Lafayette NCAA Regional Tournament before falling to Ole Miss at home in three games of the Lafayette NCAA Super Regional. Louisiana's final record of 58-10 gave them the school and Sun Belt records for victories in a season.
Hamilton, a native of Rosepine, La., became the fourth student-athlete in school history and the third member of the Ragin' Cajuns softball team to earn the Corbett Award joining Ashley Brignac (2008) and Christi Orgeron (2011-12). Former Ragin' Cajuns football standout Tyrell Fenroy, who ended his career as the all-time Louisiana college rushing leader with 4,646 yards, earned the Corbett Award in 2008.
Hamilton, who was named a second-team All-American, earned Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year honors after posting a 29-4 record in the circle for the Ragin' Cajuns. Hamilton went 22-1 during the regular season before earning a pair of wins and helping Louisiana to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship at Lamson Park.
The junior added three wins for the Ragin' Cajuns in the NCAA Regionals, including a pair against Texas before earning both victories in a Super Regional sweep of Arizona, earning the Cajuns their sixth trip the Women's College World Series.
During the season, Hamilton notched nine wins against nationally-ranked teams, including both games in a doubleheader sweep of defending national champion Oklahoma, nearly throwing a no-hitter in the process in the opening game on March 15.
Led by Hamilton in the circle, Louisiana finished with a 49-10-1 record and secured the No. 6 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to earning Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year honors, Hamilton was also the Louisiana Pitcher of the Year.
Payton, drafted as the No. 10 overall pick in last month's NBA Draft, led the Ragin' Cajuns to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005 by being the key in their Sun Belt Tournament Championship.
The Gretna native and John Ehret graduate averaged 18.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists over seven total March games in which Louisiana went 5-2. After closing the regular season with two wins in three games to clinch the all-important third seed in the Sun Belt Tournament, he led the Cajuns to tournament wins over UT-Arlington (91-85), No. 2 seed Western Kentucky (73-72) and top-seed Georgia State (82-81 in overtime).
In the upset of Western Kentucky, Payton's back-to-back hoops in the final 90 seconds clinched the victory, while he tallied six points in overtime to key the Georgia State victory and the NCAA Tournament bid. Despite losing their first-round NCAA Tournament game to third-seed Creighton (77-66), Payton and the Cajuns rallied to take a second-half lead before the Blue Jays pulled away - the junior tallied 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals in the game.
The Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year was named to the Lou Henson All-America Team, which recognizes the top mid-major players in the country. Also in March, he was named a finalist for the Lefty Driesell Award for the top defensive player in the nation - an honor he would go on to win in April.
Payton was the only player in Division I to average 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals on the season. Payton scored in double figures in 32 of 35 games played, including 14 games with 20 or more points and four 30-point performances.