Recording LSU’s first back-to-back trips to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, rewriting countless program records and earning individual honors from All-American to First Team All-SEC are just a few of the accomplishments this year’s LSU softball senior class has achieved during their days in Baton Rouge.
But more than the records they’ve set and their trips to OKC, the Tigers’ senior class – catcher/infielder Sahvanna Jaquish, outfielder Bailey Landry, infielder Constance Quinn and outfielder Layna Savoie – have the been epitome of LSU softball in the last three years and found their leadership niche during their senior season.
“They all have their different roles they take on with this team,” said LSU coach Beth Torina. “Connie brings energy. Bailey brings clutch. Sahvanna can hold people accountable, and Layna also can challenge us to do the right thing all the time. I think they all bring something special. From here on out, how they decide to direct us will be the way this team goes.”
Jaquish has shined at the plate with her power since her freshman year, breaking program records ranging from the single-season home run record in 2014 campaign to smashing the program career RBI tally this season.
After developing more patience in the box, Jaquish topped the Tigers’ single-season walk total and became the Tiger to be targeted with the most intentional walks during her career during the 2017 regular season.
“I feel like it’s a respect level that they have for me due to my past, but I really like to play. ” Jaquish said. “I really like the challenge and I appreciate a couple pitchers out there who have been throwing to me and challenging me. You know sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but I think that’s why I play the game.”
Despite her frustrating at times senior regular season, Jaquish’s focus heading into the postseason was aimed at making sure the underclassmen understand what it means when their entire season is on the line.
“That’s all you keep thinking about, and how our senior class is the only class who knows what it is like to watch the World Series on their couch, looking at the teams we’ve beaten or the teams that we could beat,” Jaquish said. “ I don’t think any of them realize that or understand that because they’ve just [been to] World Series, World Series. We kind of just go and show up. It can be taken away. It is precious. I’m trying to instill that in the younger class.”
While Jaquish thrived in her power role, Landry’s speed and versatile skillset at the plate provided LSU’s hitting coach Howard Dobson with a dynamic array of weapons in his arsenal.
Landry’s ability to slap, the running-bunt style of hitting unique to softball, combined with her ability to traditionally hit translated into a historic season for the Prairieville native, who after the end of the regular season was on track to beat LSU’s program record with batting average of .440.
Landry has stepped up with clutch plays on defense and a well-placed hits throughout her LSU career, but until this season she never earned First Team All-SEC honors.
“She’s the ultimate Tiger,” Torina said. “She loves wearing purple and gold. She bleeds purple and gold. She has enjoyed it the way, and she has had a great year and is very deserving of the honor.”
Although Jaquish and Landry have thrived in the spotlight throughout their LSU careers, the Tigers’ emotional leader – Quinn – has overcome inconsistency at the plate and defensively to evolve with a team-focused approach during her final season.
During her first three seasons, Quinn hit .291 at the plate and tallied 37 errors. Quinn said she often focused on her own struggles at the plate or fielding, which pulled her attention away from supporting her teammates.
But before the 2017 season started, Quinn said Torina pulled her aside and told her, “‘I can’t have an off day’… It can’t be where the team knows when I’m good or I’m bad or the opposing team, even the fans. I have to be on it 24/7.”
Quinn’s entire mentality has changed. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native went from being a player who was present as a leader sometimes to being LSU’s emotional energizer bunny present always and a constant inspiration to her teammates.
“If I’m not doing well, so what? ” Quinn said. “The team needs me to cheer them on. The team needs me to pump them up in some way. If I’m not having good at-bats, then I got to do what I can on the field and vice versa. I think it has allowed me to be a different leader and see a different maturity in myself.”
Although she contributed as a pinch runner for the majority of her last two seasons, Savoie continues the tradition of less well-known seniors, who play a larger role than anyone outside the program understands.
While junior pitcher Allie Walljasper summed up that the Tigers’ class will be missed, the fact that this is her last year still hasn’t sunk in yet for Jaquish.
“I can’t believe that we’re here.” Jaquish said. “It just really hasn’t hit me, and I don’t think it will it’s completely over, and I think I’ll cry like a little baby.”
Photo by RaeLynn Roussel.