As 2015 draws to a close, we look back on what was a banner year in the Baton Rouge sports world. Transcendent LSU athletes astounded Tiger fans on the court, field and diamond. Baton Rouge area high school football teams took home four state championship trophies.
Capital city sports fans witnessed a return to March Madness by the LSU men’s basketball team, LSU baseball and softball reaching the College World Series, a men’s national golf championship and the utter dominance of Leonard Fournette.
Enjoy our look back at 2015, and get ready for another exciting sporting year in 2016.
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR:
In Fournette’s sophomore season, the superstar running back defied even the loftiest of odds by running over, through and around nearly every defender in the Southeastern Conference. Fournette once again etched his name in the LSU record books by breaking Charles Alexander’s single-season rushing record with 1,741 yards in the regular season.
Beyond the big runs and the exciting touchdowns, Buga made watching LSU football even more fun than fans previously thought possible. Fournette’s annihilation of Auburn’s defense was one of the most electrifying performances in LSU sports history. The sophomore carried the LSU football team on his shoulder pads for most of the season, and carried himself with dignity and class off of it.
The only way Fournette could top his previous two seasons in 2016? A Heisman and a national championship. Both will be in play when LSU takes the field in 2016.
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
The LSU softball team made a magical run to the Women’s College World Series, ending just a few victories short of a national championship. A key cog in that run was slugger Bianka Bell, who did just about everything for the Lady Tigers along the way.
In 66 games, Bell hit .415 with 18 home runs and 73 RBI, establishing herself as one of the most feared hitters in all of college softball. Bell was nearly impossible to strike out, being punched out just 19 times in 205 at-bats, while possessing a .500 on-base percentage. In the field, Bell was just as nice – an elite-level shortstop.
GAME OF THE YEAR:
Catholic High tops Rummel in Division I State Title Game
It all came down to one play in the Division I State Championship Game between Catholic High and Rummel. With the score tied at 28 and the Bears driving deep into Raiders territory, kicker Parker Fontenot drilled a 34-yard field goal, sealing Catholic High’s first state championship victory.
The kick capped a huge upset for the Bears, who were big underdogs against a Rummel team that featured nearly a dozen college football-bound seniors, and which ran roughshod through the postseason. The game was a slugfest with 31 fourth-quarter points being scored by the teams.
PLAY OF THE YEAR:
Jarell Martin’s East Bay Funk Dunk
LSU basketball was tied at 26 with Florida late in the first half of a February conference battle when sophomore Jarell Martin stole a Gator pass near midcourt and pulled off one of the sickest between the legs in-game dunks in recent memory.
Martin’s “East Bay Funk Dunk” gave LSU a 28-26 lead it would never relinquish and electrified the Pete Maravich Assembly Center crowd. The audacity of foregoing the easy slam dunk in favor of something much more dazzling was the shot of life LSU needed that afternoon en route to a 70-63 win over Florida.
Was it the smartest play? No. But it sure was memorable.
Welcome to Baton Rouge, Mr. Lange. In the dominant pitcher’s true freshman season in Baton Rouge, Lange was an instant phenom, tossing 114 innings with 131 strikeouts – all while limiting opposing batters to just a .212 average at the plate.
When Lange was pitching, LSU was also winning. The hurler owned a 12-0 record on the season with a ridiculous 1.97 ERA in 17 games started.
The Tigers went to the College World Series in 2015, and it was in large part to the dominant righty, who was on the winning end of games in both the Regional and Super Regional Round. Lange even won a game in the College World Series for good measure.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Dale Weiner – Catholic High Football Head Coach
Longtime coach Dale Weiner finally got the championship ring that both he and his school have been coveting. Weiner led the Bears into the Division I State Playoffs as an underdog – a forgotten squad in a bracket that featured state powers like Rummel, John Curtis and Evangel. Nothing came easy for the Bears. Catholic High had to rally from behind in every playoff game it played, but the Bears emerged as the king of kings in Division I after a thrilling victory over Rummel – a victory they will be talking about around Baton Rouge for a long time coming.
BEST SPORTS MEDIA TWITTER ACCOUNT:
Jacques Doucet – @JacquesDoucet
In the world of sports media, the most successful “hot takes” are informative, humorous and original. WAFB sports anchor Jacques Doucet seamlessly blends sporting commentary with objective reporting and has fun doing it. Doucet consistently posts excellent photos of the events he covers, replies to commenters and delivers hard hitting Star Wars commentary found seldom elsewhere in the sports world. In short, Doucet is a Twitter maven.
BEST SPORTS RADIO SHOW:
ESPN radio’s afternoon drive time juggernaut, hosted by (the very important) Matt Moscona, continued to thrive in 2015. Whether delivering insightful commentary on daily sports topics, discussing his producer’s chest hair or “kicking rocks” with former MLB and LSU baseball player Ryan Theriot, Moscona never failed to entertain and inform the sports radio listeners from 3-6 p.m. everyday in the Capital city.