A new leadoff hitter? LSU softball coach Beth Tornia says she’ll take a fresh look _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU right fielder Bailey Landry connects with the bases loaded in the third inning against Connecticut during the Tiger Classic on Feb. 13 at Tiger Park.

Before this season began, LSU softball coach Beth Torina envisioned Bailey Landry as her leadoff hitter.

But a shaky start caused Landry to drop to sixth in the lineup — a move that was intended to let the junior right fielder see more pitches from the dugout, hitting coach Howard Dobson said. The shift coincided with a hot streak from junior Constance Quinn, who moved into the leadoff spot for 21 straight games.

That was before Tuesday night. Batting leadoff for the first time since Feb. 13, Landry went 2-for-3 with a triple, a run scored and an RBI in the Tigers’ 2-0 win against Nicholls State.

“Bailey has really been swinging well lately,” Torina said after the game. “She just had a little bit of a slow start but has come on a little bit. I thought it was a good day to try it, and that was a good choice.”

Torina said she’d re-evaluate the leadoff spot in the two days of practice leading up to the No. 7 Tigers’ weekend series against No. 1 Florida, which begins with a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Friday in Tiger Park.

Landry suggested her approach at the plate differs in the leadoff role, where she aims to “steal pitches” so her teammates can scout the opposing pitcher. The ultimate goal of the leadoff hitter is to get on base, which she often has little trouble doing with her arsenal of skills.

“Bailey can do so much. She can bunt and she’s really fast,” Dobson said. “She has so many tools: she can slap, soft-slap, power-slap and even stand in there and hit it out of the yard.”

That’s a first

Sahvanna Jaquish will gladly play first base — just don’t ask her to wear a first baseman’s glove.

Jaquish moved from designated player to first base in the final two innings of Tuesday night’s game, swapping spots with Sandra Simmons, a 2015 SEC all-defensive team selection who has started every game at first for LSU this season.

“I was honestly trying to find the right defense and look at some things,” Torina said. “We’ve worked Sahvanna out a little bit at first base in practice, and it’s just something I’ve been wanting to try. It seemed like a good opportunity to try it.”

The junior catcher/third baseman said she has been practicing at first the past few days. Her experience playing all over the infield growing up has smoothed the transition, but she said she’s having trouble catching with a first baseman’s glove.

Jaquish was told she couldn’t use her catcher’s mitt at first base, so she has settled for her third baseman’s glove.

“It’s a lot bigger, and it’s actually webbed and then flat on the fingers,” she said of the first baseman’s glove. “It’s just kind of awkward when I hold it. I like picking with the third baseman’s glove anyway. Hopefully we won’t make any bad throws that require me to reach that far.”

Down with the sickness

Torina said freshman pitcher Sydney Smith has recovered from the stomach bug she battled through while throwing a one-hit shutout against Nicholls State.

That isn’t the case for the rest of the team.

Though no player was in danger of missing this weekend’s series as of Wednesday, Torina said the Tigers were still “not 100-percent” free of the illness. Senior catcher Kellsi Kloss claimed she doesn’t think it’ll be an issue and that players who may contract the sickness need to have a strong mindset like Smith’s to overcome it.

“We’ve got that thing running through the whole team,” Torina said. “It seems like it gets through them pretty quick. Wash your hands when you leave.”

Going for 200

Two wins against Florida would mean a little more to LSU than just taking a series from the nation’s top team. They would bring Torina to 200 victories with the Tigers — and it would come against her alma mater, no less.

Torina said she has coached against the Gators so many times that facing them doesn’t have any special meaning for her anymore. But her players know she has the opportunity to reach a milestone against her former school.

“We need to make this a memorable weekend for her,” sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover said.