LAFAYETTE - Kandra Lamb, Raina O'Neal and Sophie Piskos from the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball team were voted onto the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Softball Preseason All-Conference Team by the league's head coaches, as announced on Thursday by the SBC office.
With the trio of honorees, Louisiana was tied with South Alabama and Troy for the most players named to the preseason list.
Lamb (17-5, 2.02 ERA in 2021), a returning first team All-Sun Belt performer who pitched a three-hit shutout of No. 16 LSU in final start of the 2021 season, is coming off career-high totals in wins (17) and strikeouts (164) recorded last spring. She yielded no more than five hits in six starts vs. Top 25 teams, and had a 10-strikeout effort vs. Oklahoma State.
O'Neal has hit .300-plus and slugged .500 plus each season as a Ragin' Cajun (2019-21). The Richmond, Texas product is a career .300 hitter with 51 of 132 career hits going for extra bases (20 doubles, 4 triples, 27 home runs). She is returning to customary center field spot after injury forced her to miss final three months of the 2021 season.
Piskos is resuming the role as starting catcher after stepping in mid-season in 2021 and going on to earn a start 22 times. She finished as one of team's hottest hitters: hit .429 with three doubles and two home runs and eight RBI over 40 plate appearances from Apr. 20 through season's end. Her final stat line included 17 runs scored, 19 hits, eight extra base hits, 11 RBI and a .596 slugging percentage in the short amount of playing time.
Sun Belt softball teams begin play on Friday, February 11. The 2022 Sun Belt Conference Softball Tournament will take place May 10-14, 2022 at Jaguar Field in Mobile, Ala.
Louisiana, an NCAA Tournament participant each year since 1999, begins the 2022 season at Yvette Girouard Field at Lamson Park with the 36th Annual Louisiana Classics from Feb. 11-13 – and is scheduled to spend the entire first month inside or near the city limits of Lafayette.
The official season opener is set for Feb. 11 with a 4 p.m. doubleheader vs. UAB at Lamson Park.
To view the complete 2022 season schedule, click here.
2022 Sun Belt Softball Preseason Awards
Preseason All-Sun Belt
Olivia Lackie, South Alabama, P
Leanna Johnson, Troy, P
Kandra Lamb, Louisiana, P
Jessica Mullins, Texas State, P
Kamdyn Kvistad, South Alabama, C
Sophie Piskos, Louisiana, C
Faith Shirley, Georgia Southern, 1B
Kelly Horne, Troy, 2B
Daisy Hess, Georgia State, SS
Sara Vanderford, Texas State, 3B
Iyanla De Jesus, Coastal Carolina, DP
Raina O'Neal, Louisiana, OF
Mackenzie Brasher, South Alabama, OF
Emily Brown, Georgia State, OF
Jade Sinness, Troy, OF
Preseason Player of the Year: Sara Vanderford, Texas State
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Leanna Johnson, Troy
During the 2021 season, the Ragin' Cajuns reached the 40-win mark for the 22nd consecutive completed season, closing out the regular season winning 25 of the final 29 games, and advanced to Championship Sunday of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Louisiana repeated as Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament champions highlighted by an 11-1 record, regular season and tournament combined, against the league's other three NCAA Tournament participants (Texas State, Troy and South Alabama).
Moving forward into the 2022 season, Louisiana is armed with the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class of the 2021 recruits by Extra Inning Softball including the No. 4-rated recruit in pitcher Sam Landry and No. 15-rated recruit in outfielder Maddie Hayden, has first team All-Sun Belt performer Kandra Lamb back in the circle seeking to pick up where Summer Ellyson left off, and welcomes back Raina O'Neal and Taylor Roman and their power bats back to the lineup.
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