Louisiana Tech softball has long had a strong connection to Airline softball and current Lady Techsters’ coach Josh Taylor is taking advantage of the alliance.
It started several seasons ago when former Airline shortstop Katie Smith signed with former Techsters coach Mark Montgomery and became Tech’s everyday shortstop and having a solid career.
Two years ago, Airline’s Caroline Easom headed to Ruston and she’s now Taylor’s everyday second baseman. Recent Airline graduates Paris Endris and Jina Baffuto signed with Taylor last fall and were at camp this week.
“Our connection with Airline is (Airline assistant coach) Katie whose little sister was in camp this week,” Taylor said. “All three of them fantastic people. All three of them fantastic families.”
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Easom hit .256 this season in 59 games with three home runs and 36 RBIs.
“Caroline had a great year for us hitting in our three-hole,” Taylor said. “She didn’t start there but we moved her up there. She handles the bat really well. She can drive the ball to the right center gap, and she got better controlling her barrel all year to be able to really produce out of that spot.
“You might not have seen it in home run numbers. You might not have seen it in RBI numbers, and that’s usually what you’re looking for out of your three-hole. But the way we’re able to produce it out, we’re able to really score runs. She did a lot of the dirty work for us. And she’s a great defender.”
The Techsters were among the national leaders in double plays turned this season with 31.
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“And Caroline Easom’s pivot at second base was a big part of that,” Taylor said. “She has a great transition, and she works her feet really well. And has a plus arm to get that ball over to first base quickly.”
Taylor said he expects continued improvement from Easom and that she’s a pleasure to be around.
“She doesn’t say too many things, but when she does, it’s funny,” he said.
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The Techsters may have gotten a steal in Endris, a right-handed power hitter and Times All-City first teamer. She hit .487 with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs for coach Brittany Smith.
“Paris should compete to play right away,” Taylor said. “She’s a strong kid, but once we get her stronger and get some backspin with her swing, I think we’ll be alright. She’s a catcher who can also play first base or third base if we need her to. We needed to add more catching depth, although we return Brooke Diaz and Gentry Spinks.”
Baffuto’s enthusiasm made a quick impression on the Tech coaching staff. It didn’t hurt that she hit .554 with 22 doubles and 10 home runs as a senior.
“A real competitive kid who will be a sparkplug for us,” Taylor said. “She’s one of those kids who will develop in her role as she gets bigger and stronger. As far as mentality- I don’t think anyone wants to win more than Jina Baffuto. We fell in love with her fire and spark.”
Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6.
This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Louisiana Tech’s Josh Taylor thrives on Airline softball connection