But after spending more than 10 years as Soignier's high school and college coach, ULM's Jeff Schexnaider wasn't completely surprised.
"He came from a college prep high school at West Monroe," said Schexnaider, the West Monroe coach before taking a job at ULM. "For 10 years, he's had to go lift weights and had to go run every day. Now he can make his own decision about what to do next."
The New York Yankees selected the ULM shortstop in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball First-Year player draft earlier this month. Soignier made public over the weekend his decision end his career without taking his shot in the minor leagues.
The three-time All-American is ULM's all-time leader in hits (tied with Willie Core at 296), total bases (478), doubles (63) and at-bats (837). Additionally, Soignier holds the ULM single-season records for hits (93), runs scored (83), total bases (166) and RBIs (71).
Soignier, 24, may have tipped his hand last year when he was drafted in the 17th round by the Florida Marlins after his junior year, but elected to return to ULM. Just the second player to be drafted twice at ULM (following David Mixon in 2006-07), Soignier hit .376 in his final collegiate campaign.
Ben Soignier and Jeff Schexnaider
Schexnaider said he's seen other talented baseball players make similar decisions when reaching the same crossroads.
"At some point, it's just not in your heart to continue," Schexnaider said. "Right now, he's ready to do something else and not be responsible for going to the ballpark.
"It's a tough decision to not do it. It was a lifelong dream for his family, his teammates. It's a decision that obviously, he's done a lot of thinking about."
Soignier's announcement ends a prep and college career that ranks high in northeastern Louisiana lore. He lettered in both football and baseball at West Monroe, where he was quarterback of a high-profile program. Louisiana's Mr. Baseball as a senior, he signed with Alabama and redshirted before transferring to ULM and beginning his assault on the record books.
Ben by the numbers
Courtesy Adam Prendergast, ULM Sports Information)
• First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Shortstop • First ULM player to earn first team all-conference honors in three different seasons since 1971 • Set the ULM career records in hits (296), total bases (478), doubles (63) and at-bats (837)
• In the ULM career record book, ranks fifth in batting average (.354), second in runs scored (222), third in home runs (37), third in RBIs (180), third in walks (128), fourth in stolen bases (48), second in games played (216) and 10th in saves (6)
• 2009 Stats: Batting Average - .376*, Runs Scored - 58, Hits - 85, Doubles -- 22*, Triples - 1, Home Runs - 11, RBIs - 71*, BB - 46*, HBP 14*, On-Base Percentage - .500*, Slugging Percentage - .628*, Stolen Bases - 8, ERA 2.70*, Saves - 2* • Set the ULM single-season RBI record in 2009 and the hits and runs scored record in 2008.
Soignier's 85 hits in 2009 rank fourth best in a single-season, 22 doubles ranks fifth best, 142 total bases ranks fourth best and 46 walks ranks third best.
• Named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team after batting .400 with three doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .679 on-base percentage (eight walks, five hit by pitches). On the mound, made three appearances, 1-0 record, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, .133 OBA • Finished season with 25 multi-hit games and 21 multi-RBI games
• Preseason Honors
- Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year
- One of the Top 10 Seniors in the Nation by Rivals.com
- Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Watch List
- Preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger, NCBWA, RecruitingCloser.com
• Previous Honors
- 2008 Louisville Slugger All-America Team
- 2006 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America Team
- 2008 Ping!Baseball All-America Team
- 2008 All-Region, All-Sun Belt, All-Louisiana
- 2008 NCAA Leader in Runs Scored Per Game
- 17th Round Selection in MLB Draft by Florida Marlins
- 2006 All-Southland Conference, Southland Freshman of the Year