LAFAYETTE — A change in position and a move to leadoff hasn’t caused a so-called sophomore slump thus far for University of Louisiana at Lafayette second baseman Haley Hayden.
After her freshman softball season earned her all Sun Belt honors, Hayden is off to an even better start in 2015. Through four games, she is batting .583 with three home runs and seven RBIs.
Hayden said her approach hasn’t changed.
“It’s just a new year, but it’s all the same,” she said. “We all want to pick up where we left off, trust in our teammates and trust our coaches and just get out there and play.”
Hayden said the power she is producing from the leadoff spot isn’t something she is necessarily trying to do. She said the goal for her is get base hits and allow the heart of the lineup to drive her in.
“I’m just trying to get on base for my teammates behind me,” Hayden said. “That’s how I want to start, and I want to get on so they can get the big hits and score me. I can’t do it by myself, but I’m just trusting my preparation.”
The leadoff spot that drastic a change from Hayden batting second last year. Cajuns coach Michael Lotief said he doesn’t put much importance on where players hit in the lineup.
“The makeup of the lineup is a lot the same,” Lotief said. “What number you are, I don’t see a lot of relevance. Haley is going to play the same way she played last year.”
Hayden said her adjustment to playing second base this year has been fairly seamless. She said she is more comfortable in the infield, and the possibility of having a dynamic double-play pairing with freshman D.J. Sanders for a few years has her excited.
“I love second base,” Hayden said. “I grew up playing infield, and I don’t think many people know that. Last year was actually the adjustment for me to play outfield. I like being closer to the batter and closer to the pitcher. I have a really loud voice, so the pitcher can definitely hear me now instead of being in center field. And I like playing next to D.J.”
The Cajuns’ 4-0 start to the season was about as perfect as can be, but Hayden said they aren’t getting complacent after just one weekend. She said the team’s leadership is strong and said they are having no trouble putting last year behind them.
“Last year was a good year, but nothing we did last year defines us,” she said. “We’re just trying to out there and play free. We’re on track to where we need to be, and we have a core group this year where everyone is leading. Even people that aren’t playing are leading. Everyone on this team is a leader, and if we keep doing that, then I think we are in a good spot.”