It’s not often UL has an athlete who is as good as anyone in the country in his or her craft, and at the same time is among the nation’s elite scholars.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have that in Ashley Brignac, who just completed another standout season with the UL softball team.

Brignac was honored Thursday as the nation’s Capital One Academic All-American of the Year in softball, an honor give to the top member of the Academic All-America team.

In simple terms, the award – presented by the College Sports Information Directors of America and the only “official” Academic All-America honors – goes to the nation’s best combination of those often-combined terms “student” and “athlete.”

Here’s an idea of the national level of this award. Winners this season in other sports have included Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy in football, and standouts Matt Howard of Butler and Maya Moore of UConn in men’s and women’s basketball.

If anyone deserves to wear that student-athlete moniker, it’s Brignac, who’s a senior academically but still has another year of athletic eligibility. The kinesiology-exercise science major has posted a 4.0 GPA throughout her four-year academic career, and also had a perfect 4.0 each year of high school at John Curtis Christian where she was a two-time state Player of the Year.

On the field, Brignac made the All-Region second team with a 32-7 record, 10 shutouts and a 1.50 ERA. The River Ridge native has seven no-hitters in her career, three this season including one in the recent Sun Belt Conference tournament at UL’s Lamson Park which the Cajuns won easily in advancing to the NCAA regionals.

She made a big splash as a freshman, earning All-America honors and beating the nation’s best team, No. 1-ranked Florida, in the opening game of the Women’s College World Series. After missing part of 2009 and all of last season with a shoulder injury, she went 14-3 in Sun Belt play with a 1.08 ERA this year and was named Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year. She was also the league’s Pitcher of the Week seven times out of 12 weeks.

And she’s still got a year to go.

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