The Tigers’ softball team hasn’t had a 6-foot player on its roster since 2010.
Now they have two: incoming pitchers Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper, both of whom tower over their teammates at 6-foot-2.
“On their visits, I was like, ‘Coach, really? I’m 5-foot-5,’” sophomore pitcher Baylee Corbello said. “But they’re the sweetest people ever.”
The incoming duo has similar roots. Walljasper, from Manteca, California, accumulated 63 wins, a 0.63 ERA and 895 strikeouts while Sierra High School. Hoover transferred from Stanford in the offseason after making five starts for the Cardinal, finishing 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA.
Now the California tandem joins a staff with two sophomore starters, Corbello and Kelsee Selman, and LSU coach Beth Torina said no pitcher is currently locked into a role in the rotation.
“I think they all four have really different looks, and they all will contribute,” Torina said. “I truly think you’re going to see all four of them starting games this first weekend. From there on, it’ll play out in how they throw and perform.”
Torina said she could use her four underclassman starters based on matchups. Corbello would be an arm used against lineups that struggle against off-speed pitches.
Hoover, whose arm has been boasted as the strongest on the Tigers pitching staff, could be used against lineups that fare poorly against power arms.
Corbello said the newcomers to the program will make her fight for her spot as a starter.
“I’ve always told my parents that I want to earn it,” Corbello said. “I don’t want it to be handed to me ever. With the new 6-foot-2 girls and Kelsee Selman, their work ethic is incredible. It’s great to be in the bullpen with them.”
Jaquish shifts to third base
Though she was initially recruited as a utility infielder, sophomore Sahvanna Jaquish spent the majority of her freshman season splitting time between catcher and designated player.
When the Tigers open against Memphis on Friday at Tiger Park, though, she’ll be getting her first collegiate action at third base.
“I really missed the infield,” Jaquish said. “Now being a third baseman, it’s a totally different world. It’s a lot quicker, and you have to read the bunts and all these other things.”
Wray brings wisdom as student coach
From 2011-2014, Tammy Wray made 216 starts at third base for the Tigers. In 2015, she’ll be sharing her knowledge with Jaquish as a student coach for LSU.
“She’s definitely been working with me at third base,” Jaquish said. “She’s been a blessing.”
Tigers’ assistant coach Lindsay Leftwich, who helps coach the infielders, said Wray’s presence as a mentor has been “huge.”
“To put Tammy next to them all day long. … it’s been a great mentorship,” Leftwich said. “They have so much confidence in what Tammy says because they saw her do it. They trust her.”
Pitchers to pick up the bats
Torina won’t just be expecting her young pitching staff to take the circle. They’ll be standing in the batter’s box, too.
All four of LSU’s potential starting arms have taken batting practice throughout the spring, and they could find themselves hitting in a number of situations this season.
“When we have them in the lineup, we are able to do some things with our (designated player) and flex position, so we can have them hit and have a player just play defense only,” Torina said.
Corbello said she enjoys taking her cuts at the plate.
“It’s fun to do something different,” Corbello said. “I really like the fact that we get to bat and have that opportunity.”