LSU and ULL dominate All-Louisiana baseball team

Kent Lowe

The two teams that battled for an NCAA Regional Championship at the start of the month at Alex Box Stadium Skip Bertman Field dominated the first team and special awards of the 2013 All-Louisiana College Baseball Team as selected and announced by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Louisiana-Lafayette, who advanced to the championship round of the Baton Rouge regional, and College World Series participant LSU, captured every one of the 14 spots on the 14 teams, splitting the spots down the middle with seven each. LSU picked up four-of-the-five special awards given each year with the Cajuns getting the other.

The team was selected on the basis of nominations made by the sports information/media relations contacts from the four-year baseball playing schools in the state. The list of nominations, based on stats and honors accumulated through the conference tournaments, was voted on by a panel of media and sports information representatives who are LSWA members. The only restriction was that SIDs could not vote for members of their own teams, while media members could vote for anyone on the ballot.

LSU first baseman Mason Katz was named the Hitter of the Year, while Aaron Nola, who was undefeated in the regular season, was named Pitcher of the Year. Tiger shortstop Alex Bregman was named the Freshman of the Year, while Louisiana-Lafayette outfielder Dex Kjerstad was named the Newcomer of the Year for first-year Louisiana non-freshman players.

There were three coaches in the close voting for Coach of the Year which was won by Paul Mainieri of LSU. Also receiving consideration was Tony Robichaux of Louisiana-Lafayette and the first-year coach of LSU-Alexandria, Brent Porche.

Katz, a first-team All-SEC selection, hit .377 through the regular season with 83 hits, 12 doubles, 14 home runs and 64 RBI. His RBI total was tops in the SEC, and he was first in the league in total bases (141). The senior from Harahan, was third in homers and slugging percentage (.641) and fourth in batting average and hits.

Nola entered NCAA play with a 10-0 record and a 1.94 ERA as he was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year. The Baton Rouge sophomore struck out 105 and gave up just 14 base on balls. He was No. 2 in the SEC in strikeouts, number three in wins and number five in the league in opponent batting average (.194). His four complete games came in consecutive outings, the first time that happed at LSU since 1993. He also became the first LSU pitcher to fire two shutouts in one season since 2005.

Bregman, from Albuquerque, N.M., adds LSWA FOY to his SEC freshman honor after posting third nation's third-highest total of base hits at 96. He was first in the SEC in base hits, triples (7) and total bases (141). He was No. 3 in the league in batting average (.378), fourth in runs scored (53) and sixth in RBI (49). Bregman was also 14-of-15 in stolen bases during his first national campaign.

Kjerstad, in his first year at Louisiana-Lafayette, earned both SBC First-Team and All-Tournament honors, leading the Cajuns with 32 multiple-hit games. He recorded 99 hits and was in the top 20 nationally in average (.388), runs (63) and hits. He hit .408 in Sun Belt play and was tops of state players in total bases with 155.

Mainieri won the state's top coach honor for the second straight year as the Tigers won the SEC Western Division and SEC Tournament titles for the fourth time during his seven-year tenure. The school's 48 regular season wins were the most in school history, and the Tigers also established a school mark for regular-season SEC victories with 23.

Joining Nola (P) Katz (1B), Bregman (SS) from LSU on the first team are: pitchers Chris Cotton and Ryan Eades, second baseman JaCoby Jones and outfielder Raph Rhymes. Joining Kjerstad (OF) from Louisiana-Lafayette on the first team are: pitcher Austin Robichaux, catcher Michael Strentz, third baseman Tyler Girouard, outfielders Seth Harrison and Dex Kjerstad, DH Caleb Adams and utility selection Ryan Leonards.

A total of 10 schools have players on the second team or honorable mention list for the 2013 team.