Rob Maness is challenging Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) and incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) for the open senate seat. My story from PJ Media is here.
Six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) won his primary against Tea Party challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the Republican runoff and will face Democrat and former Rep. Travis Childers in the November election.
While the counting for the primary on June 3 went into June 4, last night’s runoff was decided before 11 p.m.
Read more from my story on PJ Media here.
Six of the state’s schools had players named to both the first and second All-Louisiana teams for the 2014 season.
By ANNA CLAIRE THOMAS
WRITTEN FOR THE LSWA
Two of Louisiana’s top-ranked baseball programs this season, Louisiana-Lafayette and LSU, continue to collect postseason accolades with a combined 19 players selected to the first and second teams, as well as earning four of the five special awards for the 2014 All-Louisiana College Baseball Team, as selected and announced by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Louisiana-Lafayette led the way with a total of 10 players named to both the first and second teams, as well as picking up two of the five special awards given each year. The Cajuns ended the season with an overall record of 58-10 and reached the NCAA Super Regionals before falling to Ole Miss in a best-of-three series in Lafayette. LSU followed up by capturing a combined nine spots on the two teams, along with picking up two special awards after going 46-16-1 and hosting an NCAA Regional in 2014.
The teams were selected on the basis of nominations made by the sports information and 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.
Louisiana-Lafayette second baseman Jace Conrad was named the Hitter of the Year in the state, while LSU’s Aaron Nola earned Pitcher of the Year honors for the second straight season after posting an 11-1 record and being named the 2014 SEC Pitcher of the Year. Tiger pitcher Jared Poche’ was voted as Freshman of the Year, while Southeastern Louisiana outfielder Andrew Godbold was named the Newcomer of the Year for first-year Louisiana non-freshman players.
A total of seven coaches were nominated for Coach of the Year, which was awarded to Tony Robichaux of Louisiana-Lafayette. Also receiving votes were Nicholls State’s Seth Thibodeaux, Southeastern Louisiana’s Matt Riser and Jake Gautreau from Tulane.
Conrad, the 2014 Sun Belt Player of the Year, ended the regular season with a .367 clip, seven home runs and 55 runs batted in for the Cajuns. A Louisville Slugger All-American, Conrad became the first Louisiana-Lafayette player to be named a first team all-American since the 1999 season. A native of Lafayette, Conrad was also named a finalist for the Gregg Olson Award, which goes to college baseball’s breakout player of the year.
A two-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, Nola entered the NCAA Tournament with a 10-1 record and a 1.49 ERA, as the junior from Baton Rouge helped lead the Tigers to an SEC Tournament championship. A first team all-American and Golden Spikes Award finalist, Nola led the SEC with 127 strikeouts, ranked second in the league in ERA and third in the nation in strikeouts. Most recently, Nola was a first-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
As a freshman pitcher for LSU, Poche’ posted a 9-3 record throughout the regular season with a 2.21 ERA. The Lutcher native struck out 51 batters in 85.2 innings and held opponents to a .214 batting average in 15 starts. Poche’, who was also named to the SEC All-Tournament team, helped lead the Tigers to a No. 8 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, as well as a SEC Tournament championship.
In his first season at Southeastern Louisiana, Godbold hit .348 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 57 RBI, as the Oak Park, Ill. native was named the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year after coming from Triton College last season. Godbold, who is also a first team selection on this year’s All-Louisiana squad, ended the season with a league-leading 58 RBI and a .349 clip, which ranked second in the conference.
Robichaux, who just completed his 20th season at Louisiana-Lafayette, won the state’s top coaching honor for the sixth time in his career after guiding the Cajuns to a unanimous No. 1 ranking in college baseball, as well as advancing and hosting an NCAA Super Regional. Robichaux led Louisiana-Lafayette to 58 wins this season, which is the most in both Sun Belt and program history. The Cajuns’ head coach was also named Coach of the Year in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2007 and 2010.
In addition to Godbold’s first team selection and Newcomer of the Year award, the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana picked up two other first team selections with pitcher Andro Cutura and catcher Jameson Fisher earning first team honors. McNeese State first baseman Chayse Marion was also named to the first team, while Nicholls State’s Taylor Byrd made an appearance on this year’s first team ballot. Rounding out the first team selections was Northwestern State third baseman Chase Daughdrill.
LSWA ALL-LOUISIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL TEAMS (Stats based on games played through conference tournaments)
FIRST TEAM POS/NAME, SCHOOL/CL/HOMETOWN/NOTES
P/Carson Baranik, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Bossier City, La./10-1, 3.30 ERA, Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year
P/Taylor Byrd, Nicholls State/Sr./Petal, Miss./8-3, 1.92 ERA, 80 K, Southland Pitcher of the Year
P/Andro Cutura, Southeastern La./Jr./Pearl River, La./10-2, 1.72 ERA, 95 K, .212 Opp. BA
P/Aaron Nola, LSU/Jr./Baton Rouge, La./10-1, 1.49 ERA, SEC Pitcher of the Year, 1st team All-American
C/Jameson Fisher, Southeastern La./So./Zachary, La./.394 BA, 16 2b, 37 RBI
1B/Chayse Marion, McNeese State/Sr./Red Deer, AB, Canada/.322 BA, 12 2b, 40 RBI, 11-17 SB-ATT
2B/Jace Conrad, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Lafayette, La./.367 BA, 19 2b, 7 HR, 1st team All-American
SS/Blake Trahan, Louisiana-Lafayette/So./Kinder, La./.339 BA, 11 2b, .443 obp, 1st team All-Sun Belt
3B/Chase Daughdrill, Northwestern State/Jr./Bossier City, La./.324 BA, 9 2b, 2 HR, 38 RBI, .410 obp
OF/Caleb Adams, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Texarkana, Texas/.386 BA, 17 2b, 7 3b, 11 HR, 39 RBI, .711 slg
OF/Andrew Godbold, Southeastern La./Jr./Oak Park, Ill./.348 BA, 8 HR, 57 RBI, SLC Newcomer of Year
OF/Andrew Stevenson, LSU/So./Youngsville, La./.328 BA, 6 2b, 5 3b, 8 SB, SEC All-Defensive Team
DH/Tyler Girouard, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Lafayette, La./.338 BA, 10 2b, 2 3b, 2 HR, 25 RBI, .433 obp
HITTER/PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Jace Conrad, Louisiana-Lafayette
Vote totals – Conrad (24), Fisher (4)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR – Aaron Nola, LSU
Vote totals – Nola (25), Cutura (3)
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – Jared Poche’, LSU
Vote totals – Poche’ (19), Oller (7), Bazar (1), Capielano (1)
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR – Andrew Godbold, Southeastern Louisiana
Vote totals – Godbold (20), Daughdrill (3), Scivicque (2), No vote (3)
COACH OF THE YEAR – Tony Robichaux, Louisiana-Lafayette
Vote totals – Robichaux (22), Thibodeaux (4), Gautreau (1), Riser (1)
P/Cody Boutte, Louisiana-Lafayette/Sr./Eunice, La./8-0, 2.75 ERA, 50 K, 1st team All-Sun Belt
P/Joe Broussard, LSU/Jr./Gretna, La./3-1, 0.89 ERA, .157 Opp. BA, 30 APP, 8 SV
P/Jared Poche’, LSU/Fr./Lutcher, La./9-3, 2.21 ERA, 51 K, .214 Opp. BA, SEC All-Tournament Team
P/Austin Robichaux, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Crowley, La./7-2, 3.01 ERA, 70 K, .212 Opp. BA
*C/Kade Scivicque, LSU/Jr./Maurepas, La./.310 BA, 8 2b, 6 HR, SEC All-Tournament Team
*C/Michael Strentz, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Lafayette, La./.236 BA, 10 2b, 9 HR, 38 RBI
1B/Tyler Moore, LSU/Jr./Baton Rouge, La./.307 BA, 10 2b, 5 HR, 34 RBI, SEC Tournament MVP
2B/Andrew Guillotte, McNeese State/Jr./Moss Bluff, La./.316 BA, 14 2b, 20 SB, 1st team All-Southland
SS/Alex Bregman, LSU/So./Albuquerque, N.M./.301 BA, 14 2b, 6 HR, 44 RBI, 2nd team All-SEC
3B/Ryan Leonards, Louisiana-Lafayette/Sr./Crowley, La./.320 BA, 12 2b, 4 HR, 2nd team All-Sun Belt
OF/Jake Fraley, LSU/Fr./Middletown, Del./.385 BA, 7 2b, 1 3b, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 29 R, 6 SB
OF/Jackson Gooch, McNeese State/Sr./Delta, BC, Canada/.319 BA, 12 2b, 41 RBI, 1st team All-Southland
OF/Seth Harrison, Louisiana-Lafayette/Jr./Cypress, Texas/.317 BA, 15 2b, 5 3b, 9 HR, 58 RBI, 15 SB
DH/Sean McMullen, LSU/Sr./Metairie, La./.286 BA, 17 2b, 3 3b, 6 HR, 34 RBI, SEC All-Tournament Team
*Tied for position
Last night was my first election night in a few years and I was covering the Republican primary in Mississippi. Read the story on PJ Media here.
Mississippi’s Republican senate primary has been full of drama and many of those instances have turned the eyes of the country to the state.
One reason is because the June 3 primary between six-term Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel is seen by many as a face-off between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party. Read the full story here.
This is from October 18. A version of this story was published in The New Orleans Advocate
By BEN LEDBETTER
Special to The Advocate
It looked like the game ended in regulation when Northlake Christian’s Miguel Black picked up a James Cox fumble and ran 80 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game.
That touchdown was called back for unsportsmanlike conduct, however, the Wolverines defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 14-13 in overtime Friday at Strawberry Stadium.
“At first I thought it was a penalty for excessive celebration,” said Northlake coach Tony Agresta about the call. “We were trying to figure out where we were going to kick the extra point from, if we wanted to move it to a hash and give our kicker a little bit because the extra point still might have been big.”
Agresta said the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was given because one of his players bumped into an official.
The Wolverines ( 7-0, 4-0 District 7-2A got the ball first and on the second play, Taylor Mussachia made a 2-yard run to put Northlake up 14-7.
When St. Thomas Aquinas (5-2, 3-1) got its turn it scored on fourth down when quarterback Dillon Lee completed an 8-yard pass to Luke Bleakley. The Falcons went for the 2-point conversion and that pass was ruled complete, which gave Northlake Christian the win.
“We got the momentum,” said St. Thomas Aquinas coach John White about his decision to go for two points. “We worked hard. Let’s see if we can make it.”
Much of the first quarter started as a battle of defenses as neither team was able to go past the 20-yard line. That changed at the 1:58 mark of the first quarter when St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Dillon Lee completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Luke Bleakley and that put the Falcons up 7-0.
Following a St. Thomas fumble, the Wolverines recovered inside the 10-yard line and that set up Taylor Mussachia 6-yard touchdown run that tied the score with 11:12 left in the second quarter.
The Wolverines looked like they were going they were going to score again and made it down to the 15 yard line, however Cameron Dantzler picked off a Josh O’Rear pass and St. Thomas was able to move across midfield to the Northlake 33 yard-line.
O’Rear got to avenge the interception. The Falcons were at the 33-yard line and Lee threw a long pass to the end zone. O’Rear recovered the ball near the 5-yard line and ran back to the 34-yard line.
“I made a bad throw on their end, about to score,” said O’Rear. “I just didn’t get my head down and made aplay on the other end of the ball. I was just trying to help my team as best I could.”
By the end of the half, St. Thomas Aquinas was able to get to the 15-yard line.
For the Falcons, Lee finished with 93 passing yards, completing five of 12 attempts at halftime.
Mussachia finished the half with 48 rushing yards on 11 carries at the half for Northlake. O’Rear ended the half with 65 rushing yards on seven carries.
The Falcons looked like they were going to make another push for the end zone. James Cox made a 50-yard run to bring the ball inside the 30. On their next possession, which continued into the fourth quarter, St. Thomas made it inside the 20-yard line. However the Falcons were not able to go any further and turned the ball over on downs at the 26-yard line.
“If you’re going to win a championship, if you’re going to have a great year, at some point in time you’re going to have to overcome some adversity,” Agresta said. “I think our boys did that tonight. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world. It was hard fought, but we overcame adversity and I think that was the biggest difference.”
This is from the championship of the Newman Invitational Tournament. A version of this ran in The New Orleans Advocate
Date: December 15, 2013
By BEN LEDBETTER
Special to The Advocate
St. Augustine got a lead early in the second quarter against Country Day.
The Purple Knights were able to keep it as they defeated the Cajuns 48-38 in the championship of the Newman Invitational Tournament Saturday at Fitzgerald-Skertich Arena.
“We just had to be patient down the stretch,” said St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson. “They (Country Day) do a great job of making you do some things you’re not supposed to do late in a game.”
Erin Bringier and Marlon Watts led the Purple Knights (9-3) with 12 points apiece. Scott Plaisance led the Cajuns with 16 points.
St. Augustine’s Bryce Washington was named the tournament’s most valuable player and said the Cajuns (5-3) were strong competitors. He’ll be a teammate with one of the Cajuns as both he and Country Day’s Scott Plaisance both signed to play with UL-Lafayette.
“I just had to be a leader out there tonight,” he said. “They’re a very well-coached team, very disciplined team.
“We had to play defense and rebound well. Scotty Plaisance is a great player. He’s coming up there to ULL with me. The whole Country Day team is a great team. We just had to box out and play defense.”
While the Purple Knights had as much as a 12-point lead on the Cajuns, Country Day cut it to four when Plaisance sank one free throw with 3:32 left in the game.
With 2:44 remaining in the game, St. Augustine finished with a 12-6 run, with Watts and Bringier both chipped in four while Plaisance scored all six for Country Day.
“They got the size and every shot was contested,” said Country Day coach Mike Mcguire. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well, but they’ve held everybody down so we knew it would be tough to get shots.
“It was a very physical game. We couldn’t handle the physicality.”
While his squad defeated East Jefferson the previous night, McGuire also saw positives Saturday.
“I thought we defended fairly well,” he said. “They spread the floor. We did our best defending. We got a couple of turnovers. We got a bunch of opportunities, we just couldn’t score. When you can’t score it’s tough to win.”
While the game started close, St. Augustine ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run and continued building on its lead in the second quarter.
The Purple Knights opened the second period ahead 15-10 and following a Plaisance shot low and in the paint with 7:20 left, it cut his team’s deficit to three.
However, the Purple Knights went on an 8-0 run to build a 12-point lead and that was capped by Watts’s shot with 4:35 left in the half.
This is the first sports story I have filed in a few years. It appears in The New Orleans Advocate and was published Wednesday Sept. 4, 2013.
BY BEN LEDBETTER
SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
It might have been the first match of the regular season for both Archbishop Chapelle and Metairie Park Country Day, but the drama both teams produced Wednesday was worthy of postseason form.
In the end, Country Day had just enough to hold off visiting Archbishop Chapelle, 24-26, 25-15, 27-25, 20-25 and 16-14.
“It was a great match,” Lady Cajuns coach Julie Ibieta said. “We are a pretty young team. One of our concerns was that we needed to get battle tested right at the beginning of the season and we absolutely did.”
Big plays were a prominent feature of Wednesday’s contest. That was especially true in the third game, which saw both teams tie the score 11 times.
Chapelle coach Jen Gandolph was grateful that her squad was able to keep the match close considering her team had to start the season away from home.
“We we’re aggressive,” Gandolph said. “Chappelle has not always been the dominant team when it comes to that. I thought when it came down to that pressure situation, we went after it. Sometimes we used to shy away.
“I think we played with a lot of heart, controlled emotions, and just stayed aggressive.”
Gandolph said her team did not pass very well although it improved as the match progressed and was average on defense. Her team did come through with some great digs, she said.
“Coming from behind is great, especially against a team like that,” Gandolph said. “On the flip side, when we had the lead, you can’t let them have an opening, because they’re going to take it, just like we did. That game was so back and forth, we probably could have tossed a coin and called who was going to win this match.”
Tai Bierria led the Lady Cajuns in kills with 28 and also had four aces. Teammate Jenna Ibieta had 47 assists.
Maddie Leger finished with 24 digs, and Caroline Perlis had four blocks.
“We ran the middle a lot,” Ibieta said. “We have to work on spreading our offense some, but our two middles were awesome.
“It’s the first match for both teams, and you never know what to expect.”
My first story in four years was published and it appeared in the New Orleans-based The Louisiana Weekly:
Negotiations result in the New Orleans Mission opening its doors to expectant mothers
By Ben Ledbetter
The New Orleans Mission will now allow pregnant women and families with children to stay at the shelter. According to a news release from the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, negotiations that lasted about one year started after the mission declined to house a woman that was seven months pregnant.
According to GNOFHAC Assistant Director Kate Scott, the center received a call from a woman who was seven months pregnant last December after she was evicted from the mission. Scott said that the center raised money for the woman so she would have a place to stay. The New Orleans-based agency filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency alleged that the mission’s policy of denying shelter to women who were more than six months pregnant constituted illegal discrimination under the Fair Housing Act based on the woman’s sex and family status.
The GNOFHAC, the unnamed client and the mission reached a settlement last week. According to those terms, the mission will now adopt a policy of non-discrimination, undergo fair housing training, and provide financial restitution to the action center’s client.
“There are some facilities in New Orleans that have certain programs for certain populations,” Scott said. “The mission provides many services to many people, so that’s why it’s important they have this non-discrimination policy.
Scott said the complaint from the client is what prompted the GNOFHAC to work on the issue.
“The negotiations, we feel like, will have a positive impact, not only on our clients, but other people that seek services from the mission,” Scott said.
The New Orleans Mission was founded in 1989 and operates multiple facilities. According to the organization’s website, it houses men at its main building on Oretha Castle Hayley Blvd. and a women’s center on Bar?rone Street. It serves 12,000 meals per month and provides shelter for up to 148 adults. Other services the mission offers include a medical clinic that is operated by volunteer doctors and nurses from Louisiana State University. It also provides mail service for residents at the shelter, housing referrals, an education center, clothing distribution, a legal clinic, employment assistance, and laundry.
Guidestar.org, a website that stores financial information for a variety of nonprofits, states the New Orleans Mission received its nonprofit tax status in 1990. The organization functions entirely on donations and grants. According to financial data on Guidestar.org, the mission had total revenues of $755, 737 for the fiscal year ending in 2010. For that same year, it had $787,518 in expenses.
David Bottner is the mission’s executive director and could not be reached for comment.
“The resolution of this case is timely as we approach a holiday season where not everyone in our community has access to the homes they need,” said GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry in a written statement. “This year, because of the mission’s commitment to ensure fairness in their programs, we can all rest assured that individuals in need will receive the equitable treatment that they deserve.
This article was originally published in the December 10, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper