Head Coach James Landreneau
James Landreneau, who has guided McNeese to three straight Southland Conference Tournaments and three postseason tournaments including back-to-back Southland Conference Tournament Titles (2017, 2018), one regular season title (2017), two NCAA Regionals (2017, 2018) along with a NISC (National Invitational Softball Championship) Regional Tournament appearance in 2019, enters his fourth season as head coach of the Cowgirls.
In three years as head coach, Landreneau has had 17 players named to the All-Southland Conference team, four All-Region picks, and seven named to the All-Louisiana team. All-American Erika Piancastelli was named the SLC softball Student-Athlete of the Year (2017, 2018) and was named to the CoSIDA District 6 All-Academic Team twice (2017, 2018). In 2018, Piancastelli was named Louisiana’s Hitter of the Year.
In 2019, Landreneau guided McNeese to its first NISC South Regional Tournament appearance where the Cowgirls fell 4-3 in 10 innings to Texas-Arlington in the championship game. Earlier in the day, the Cowgirls defeated UTA 6-1 to force the "If Necessary" game. McNeese picked up its first NISC Tournament win with a 7-3 victory over Middle Tennessee State University. The Cowgirls then fell 5-3 to UTA before bouncing back with a 3-1 win over Stephen F. Austin to advance to the championship games against UTA.
The Cowgirls ended the regular season (33-32) and finished in third place in the Southland Conference race with a 19-8 record. McNeese advanced to its 24th overall SLC Tournament, and fourth straight postseason tournament. After dropping its first game of the tournament, McNeese fought their way back but fell one game short of reaching the tournament championship game.
The 30-win season is the third straight under Landreneau who reached a coaching milestone during the 2019 season when he picked up his 100th career victory with a 1-0 win at Houston Baptist in the second game of the SLC series on March 29, 2019.
Landreneau continued the winning tradition in 2018 and posted his second consecutive 40-win season with a 41-21 overall record along with winning the Southland Conference Tournament and earned the NCAA automatic bid for the second straight year under his leadership. The Cowgirls finished the regular season in a three-way tie for second place with an 18-9 conference record.
In 2018, McNeese broke into a major poll (USA Today/NFCA Top 25) for the first time in school history following the first week of the season that saw the Cowgirls go 4-0 with wins over Virginia and preseason No. 20 Tulsa. The Cowgirls ranked 24th in the USA Today/NFCA poll and 23rd in the FPN (Fastpitch News) Poll.
McNeese also picked up a 6-1 win at Florida State, the 2018 National Champions who was ranked 9th at the time and opened the NCAA Regional Tournament at Texas A&M with an 11-10 win over No. 18 Baylor.
As a team, the Cowgirls broke five school records and Erika Piancastelli completed her stellar career by breaking a combined 20 records (McNeese and SLC) including 13 career records.
The Cowgirls offense continued to produce in 2018, leading the Southland Conference in 13 offensive categories (wins-41, slugging percent-.463, on base percent-.407, runs scored-361, RBI-319, home runs-59, total bases-734, total plate appearances-1,967, at bats-1,585, walks-283, sacrifice flies-27, innings pitched-413.1, and putouts-1,237). McNeese was second in the league with a .291 batting average, 461 hits, and 283 stolen bases while ranking third in doubles with 76.
In 2017, Landreneau guided McNeese to a school record 24 conference wins, tied the school record with 43 (43-18) wins, the 2017 Southland Conference regular season title, the SLC Tournament title and an NCAA Regional appearance as well as being named the league’s Coach of the Year in his first season as head coach.
Landreneau, a key component on the McNeese Cowgirls’ softball coaching staff the previous four years, continued the Cowgirl success in 2017.
The Cowgirls broke a combined nine records (8 McNeese, 1 SLC) and tied six school records and led the SLC in 15 statistical categories including 11 offensive categories in 2017. The Cowgirls broke the McNeese single season RBI (320), runs scored (361) and walks (216) records while leading the SLC with a .296 batting average, .460 slugging percent, .399 on base percent, 368 runs scored, 471 hits, 325 RBI, 85 doubles, 52 homeruns and 229 walks. His pitching staff ranked third in the league with a 2.58 ERA and fourth in strikeouts with 229.
Under Landreneau’s leadership, he coached the 2017 & 2018 SLC Player and Hitter of the Year (Erika Piancastelli) along with the 2017 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year (Rachel Smith).
After starting the 2017 season with a 5-9 record, Landreneau guided the Cowgirls to a 38-9 record the rest of the way including a 12-game winning streak and won 13 of their last 15 games.
In his previous four years at McNeese, the Cowgirls compiled a 157-66 overall record and an 83-20 mark in Southland Conference play was apart of three conference championships (2013, 2014, 2016) while coaching three league player of the year recipients.
In 2016, Landreneau coached an offense that was led by two-time NFCA All-American catcher and Southland Conference Player and Hitter of the Year Erika Piancastelli as the Cowgirls won the league regular season and tournament championships while playing in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regionals where they beat former national champion Arizona State in the opening round.
The Cowgirls, who won a school record 43 games, led the league in hitting (.305), slugging (.460), on-base percentage (.409), runs scored (350), hits (466), runs batted in (292), doubles (88), total bases (702) and hit by pitches (81).
In addition to the record number of victories, the Cowgirls also set school records in runs scored, RBI, batters hit, walks (201) and on-base percentage.
In 2015, Landreneau’s offense broke or tied four single season records while Piancastelli became the first player in Southland Conference history to be voted as the league’s Player, Hitter and Freshman of the Year in the same season.
McNeese posted a .968 fielding percentage that season to rank 36th in the nation. The Cowgirls finished the season ranked fourth in the league with 61 doubles that year as they finished with a 38-15 overall record and a conference championship mark of 19-5.
In 2014, the Cowgirls repeated as conference champions with a 20-6 league record and 40-17 mark overall.
McNeese led the league in stolen bases three consecutive years and ranked in the top 10 in the nation for two seasons while he was an assistant.
In 2014, the Cowgirls topped the conference and ranked 19th in the nation with 86 doubles and led the league with a .435 slugging percentage while setting single-season school records in runs scored and on-base percentage while tying records in triples and hit-by-pitches.
Landreneau coached and developed Alanna DiVittorio who broke a combined nine McNeese and Southland Conference records her senior season and was named the league’s player and hitter of the year for 2014.
DiVittorio also earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors that season to become just the second softball player in school history to earn the prestigious award.
The native of Mamou, La. resides in Lake Charles with his two children, Aubrey and Jaxon.