Hall of Fame feature: Power-throwing righthander Ashley Brignac Domec led Ragin’ Cajuns to 2008 Women’s College World Series
It didn’t take long for Ashley Brignac to live up to the hype.
The most honored pitcher in Louisiana prep softball history was expected to make an immediate impact on UL’s nationally-known program, after amassing a truckload of honors and accomplishments in her storied career at John Curtis Christian School in New Orleans.
But the power-throwing righthander was joining a program that had already made 18 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and had dominated the Sun Belt Conference from the moment the league added softball as a sport. Even with her obvious talents, how much difference could one person make for the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 2008 squad?
Well, as a freshman, Brignac:
• Was the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year, an honor she’d go on to win three times;
• Had 13 shutouts, three no-hitters and one perfect games on the way to a 31-7 record to go with three saves against a national-caliber schedule;
• Ranked nationally in wins, ERA, strikeouts and hits allowed;
• Beat eighth-ranked Houston twice in the NCAA Super Regional round, including a two-hitter on the final day that sent the Cajuns to the Women’s College World Series; and
• In her first World Series appearance, struck out 15 against the nation’s No. 1 team in beating Florida, 3-2.
“That first year, I was from a culture of winning,” she said. “It was like that’s what we do, we accomplish big things, so to me that was a normal year. Everyone else was saying how amazing it was, but our team mentality was that we’re good and this is what we’re supposed to do.”
That winning attitude during her five-year career established the Baton Rouge native as one of the elite pitchers in Cajun history and put her into the 2021 class of the Louisiana Athletics Hall of Fame. She will be honored with the University’s highest athletic honor during this week’s Homecoming activities.
She will join the late Cajun baseball coach Tony Robichaux and two baseball standouts, Paul Bako and Phil Devey as Hall of Fame inductees at a Friday ceremony in their honor. They will also participate in the Homecoming parade and will be honored during Saturday’s Homecoming football game against Texas State.
During the now-Ashley Brignac Domec’s four playing years (she missed the 2010 season with an injury), the Cajuns compiled a 201-45 record and won two NCAA Regionals. She was responsible for 94 of those wins, the third highest total in UL history, and she still ranks third in Cajun history in career shutouts, strikeouts and winning percentage even while fighting through lingering injuries.
Even in her senior year when shoulder issues plagued her the entire season, she managed a 23-4 record with six shutouts and a 2.29 ERA. In her last appearance at a Lamson Park that was completely rebuilt for that 2012 season, she beat Stanford in the NCAA Regional finals to send the Cajuns to the Super Regionals.
“Being able to host a regional that year, in the new stadium, and then to finish there,” she said, “we accomplished something that really felt good.”
By that time, Brignac Domec had already finished her degree, was engaged to husband Blake and was on her way to chiropractic school. She’s now a doctor of chiropractic medicine and living back in New Orleans where she owns a clinic and serves as Tulane’s official chiropractor while raising two children.
But it’s the time just prior to coming to UL, and that story-book freshman season, that fills her memories.
“After I visited Tennessee I thought that’s where I was going,” she said. “But my whole goal was to play in Louisiana because I was a Louisiana girl. UL was my last visit on purpose, and it felt like home, it felt right and it felt natural.”
Flash one year ahead, and after a stellar individual and team season and helping her team roll undefeated through the Baton Rouge Regional, Brignac was in the circle for the third and final game of the Super Regional against Houston and made quick work of the Cougars, throwing a two-hit shutout in a 4-0 win and handling a final fisted line drive for the clinching out that sent UL to the WCWS.
“I remember it seemed like that line drive was taking forever to get there,” she said. “We all went crazy and then we looked up at the crowd. We had a lot of our fans there, and it made us realize that our community is like no other, and to be able to share that with them, that’s what makes our place so special.”
One week later, she shut down the No. 1-ranked Gators to open the World Series, where the Cajuns would eventually finish fifth nationally.
“Looking up in the stands after that, I was so proud to be a part of that,” she said, “and then all of the coaches dancing on the bus. It wasn’t just that we were winning, we were having fun. The fun was in the grind, and all those moments you work for, that’s what I’ll always remember.”
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