Softball Preview Part 3: The Outfield
Quick and speedy outfielders has been a hallmark for LSU as a program, as 2015 looks to be no different in that regard with the return of senior A.J. Andrews and Bailey Landry leading the charge and a bevy of other options to fortify arguably the deepest area for the Tigers in the coming year.
Andrews leads off the way she’s done for the past two seasons during her All-American career, as last year’s leader in hits will look to end her career on a high note out in centerfield. Andrews hit .329 last year, topping out in the low .400’s at one point, earning 68 hits, with six triples and stealing 38 bases which was among the top ten in the nation.
“A.J. is the captain of the outfield and the true leader of the team,” Beth Torina said. “She drives this team and pushes them to new heights by her work ethic on the field. She does amazing things as a leadoff hitter and is one of the best base stealers I’ve ever been around.”
Putting up strong numbers offensively toward the end of last season was SEC All-Freshman Landry, who in 49 games hit .368 with four doubles, three home runs and 17 RBI. A slapper in the same vein as Andrews, Landry was also a danger on the bases, swiping seven bags on nine attempts, while having the speed to play on the edge in right field.
“Bailey is just a special offensive player, and we are so lucky to have her here at LSU,” Torina said. “She’s got so many weapons at the plate and can hit at the top or bottom of the lineup and make a difference in so many different spots for us.”
The open spot for the Tigers comes out it left field, filling the spot of Jacee Blades who started all but one game for the team as a senior last season. However, LSU has no shortage of options with a string of returners and newcomers that can help fill the role.
Although she only played in 15 games and had 13 at-bats, Alayna Falcon made most of them count hitting .462 with six hits and six RBI.
“Alayna is very solid in the outfield and has the best arm on the team,” Torina said. “She’s somebody that’s going to see some chances offensively at the plate, especially after the work she’s put in during the offseason.”
Another of the highly ranked recruits brought in by Torina is Emily Griggs who hails from Wichita, Kansas. Griggs, who along with Walljasper were named to the USA Women’s Softball Junior National Team over the winter break, hit .616 at the plate during her All-American prep career, with 52 stolen bases.
“After watching Emily play, the better the competition no matter in what area, her play gets better as it goes up,” Torina said. “She plays hard, is fun to watch and I think our fans are really going to enjoy watching her compete.”
The final piece to the outfield roster is another talented and speedy freshman in Taylor Lockwood. Just down the road from nearby Walker, Lockwood won the NFCA Golden Shoe for the top base stealer in high school, hitting .460 lifetime with an on-base percentage of .556.
“Outside of A.J., Taylor has likely the best foot speed on the team,” Torina said. “She does a really great job in the outfield and adds another dynamic and definitely has her own niche within the program that adds to the group as a whole.”