By Mario Jerez
Halfway through her collegiate career, Sahvanna Jaquish has become one of the elite hitters in college softball for the LSU Tigers.
The third baseman broke the LSU single season record for RBIs in a season with 76 during LSU’s run to the Women’s College World Series last season while batting .500 and earning first team all SEC honors for the second consecutive year. Jaquish was instrumental in helping LSU reach its first No.1 ranking in school history and its fourth trip to the WCWS, where the Tigers finished in third place.
DIG Magazine caught up with Jaquish during the team’s first practice of the 2016 season and discussed taking on the responsibilities of an upperclassmen leader, the relevance of the team’s antics in the dugout during at-bats and more.
DIG: How did you get into softball, and what was a defining softball moment for you at a young age?
Sahvanna Jaquish: My two older sisters played softball, so I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t good at first, but I had to play catch up with them. They were older, and they’ve always pushed me to get better.
DIG: Coming from California, you had a lot of options. What made you want to spend your collegiate career across the country at LSU?
SJ: The people and the fans here really make you feel like family. My teammates and my coaches have been great from the start. Also, they have a good program for my major, mass communications. Everything really fit into place.
DIG: Given your Puerto Rican heritage, you speak Spanish fluently. Does being bilingual have any advantages on this team?
SJ: I say stuff to (the team) in Spanish all the time. They think it’s funny. Bianka Bell is the worst. She loves speaking Spanish all the time. She has an alter ego called Suzanna, so we have a lot of fun with the rest of the team.
DIG: Now that you’re halfway through, is there a certain hit that stands out to you at this point in your collegiate career?
SJ: There would have to be two. During my freshman year, we were playing Boston College in the regionals. It was the bottom of the seventh with two outs, and we were about to lose. I hit a home run to win the game. Also, last year against Louisiana Tech, I hit a walk off home run to win the game. Walk off home runs are always sweet. They rarely happen.
DIG: LSU softball players are known for your antics in the dugouts during at-bats. Do you have a favorite?
SJ: My favorites would have to be Taylor Lockwood’s Iron Man mask, Connie’s [Quinn] Batman cape, and of course Juanita the rally fish. We like to stay relaxed, and we’re always having fun.
DIG: On a team that likes to stay loose and joke around, who has the goofiest personality?
SJ: Constance Quinn. No doubt about it. She keeps it light-hearted, and she’s always joking, keeping the energy up and keeping us positive. She gets serious too, but she knows when to turn it on and off.
DIG: Is there anybody on the team that resembles a disciplinarian and tries to keep the rest of the team in line?
SJ: Sandra [Simmons] has really taken on the role of being a leader. She tries to hold us accountable in a good way. She’s really displaying her senior role.
DIG: How would you assess your performance in last year’s WCWS, and how do you look to build upon it going into the new season?
SJ: Getting to the [Women’s] College World Series was just amazing. You can’t really forget about going there. It’s something that really impacts you and changes your life. I think all of us realize that everyone out there has a new team, and so do we. We have a lot of great freshmen that have the potential to make an impact out the gate. We’re just trying to build this team for this year.
DIG: While you have an excellent reputation as a hitter, you committed some errors during the WCWS. What did you emphasize this offseason to improve your performance on defense?
SJ: Honestly, I really just focused on everything: my front hand, backhand, short game. As a third basemen, you have to really focus on the slappers, the short game and all of the bunts you’re going to get. I’ve tried to get better all around.
DIG: Looking back on the past two years, how would you evaluate your collegiate experience, both on and off the field, now that it appears that you’re hallway through?
SJ: It’s gone by way too fast. I feel like I’ve grown up, and just really enjoy being with these women. They’re longtime friends. They’re not just teammates that I’ll play with and not talk to when it’s all said and done. I’ve really bonded with these girls, and hopefully we can win more games in the future.
*LSU opens its season February 12 against Ohio State at Tiger Park.