Lafayette – Scott Hawkins and Justin Robichaux earned spots on the All-Sun Belt Conference Preseason Baseball Team, announced Tuesday by the league office, while The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns were picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches Poll.

Hawkins was selected as the team’s designated hitter. Robichaux was selected as one of two relief pitchers named to the team.

Hawkins led the Cajuns in multiple offensive categories in 2008, including batting average (.306), home runs (11), doubles (14), slugging percentage (.541), hits (64), extra-base hits (26), total bases (113), multi-hit games (21), multiple-RBI games (11), runs (42) and walks (26).

He posted an impressive .909 OPS thanks to a second-best .388 on-base percentage and his .541 slugging mark. The senior from Collierville, Tenn., put together hitting streaks of seven games, six games, and three four-game streaks.

Hawkins enters the 2009 season in chase of the school record for career home runs. He currently ranks fifth all-time with 32 career round trippers, and needs only eight more to break the current record of 39 set by Ron Robicheaux (1983-86).

Robichaux emerged as one of the Cajuns’ all-time best closers in 2008, saving a single-season record nine games in just his first season in the role, catapulting him into a fourth-place tie for the all-time career lead in saves. He did not allow any earned runs in save situations against Sun Belt teams, and allowed just 19 hits in 21 appearances and 31.1 innings pitched. Robichaux also allowed only two extra-base hits all season, and kept opposing batters to a staff-best .167 batting average.

Also a superb defensive first baseman when he’s not on the mound, Robichaux is a two-time member of the Sun Belt Conference Honor Roll.

Robichaux also has the chance to etch his name in the school’s record books as the all-time leader in saves. He needs four more saves to break the current career record of 12 held by Kraig Schambough (2002-05).

In the preseason poll, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished with 78 points and were only one point behind New Orleans for fourth place and six points behind ULM for third place. Louisiana was a clear-cut choice for the Top 5, besting sixth-place Florida Atlantic by 12 points.

After winning its second tournament title and making its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in five seasons, along with the majority of its line-up returning, Western Kentucky University is expected to top the Sun Belt Conference in 2009, claiming nine of 11 first-place votes and 119 total points.

Louisiana will open the 2009 regular season when it hosts national power Nebraska for a weekend series beginning Friday, Feb. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field. The four-game set with the Cornhuskers opens the 15th campaign under head coach Tony Robichaux.

PRESEASON POLL

1. WKU (9 first-place votes) 119 points
2. Troy 100 points
3. ULM 84 points
4. New Orleans (1 first-place vote) 79 points
5. Louisiana (1 first-place vote) 78 points
6. Florida Atlantic 66 points
7. South Alabama 64 points
8. Middle Tennessee 55 points
9. FIU 42 points
10. Arkansas State 22 points
11. UALR 17 points

ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE PRESEASON BASEBALL TEAM
Starting Pitchers – Chase Ware, Arkansas State; Matt Ridings, WKU
Relief Pitchers – Justin Robichaux, Louisiana; Josh Storm, Troy
Catcher – David Doss, South Alabama
First Base – Tyler Townsend, FIU
Second Base – Ryan Mollica, FIU
Shortstop – Ben Soignier, ULM
Third Base – Wade Gaynor, WKU
Outfield – Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee; Nathan Hines, Middle Tennessee; Chad Cregar, WKU
Designated Hitter – Scott Hawkins, Louisiana

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Ben Soignier, ULM

PRESEASON PITCHER OF THE YEAR – Matt Ridings, WKU