Larissa Piessens knows what she wants and the sooner the better.
The Windham High sophomore shortstop already knows, in fact, where she wants to go to college and play softball. But more on that later.
Last year, Piessens wanted to be a varsity contributor for the Jaguars but she was stuck on the JV team until late in the season, something that she wasn’t thrilled about.
“I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about it,” she said.
She’s making up for the delay this year. Through 10 games, she was hitting .417 and providing impressive power, slugging six home runs to go along with 18 RBIs — both area highs — while playing rock solid defensively at shortstop.
“I’m very pleased with how well she has adapted to the varsity level,” understated Windham coach Dave Hedge.
While gifted defensively, Piessens has been a bit of a surprise offensively although, she said, “I wasn’t expecting to hit this well so early but I was used to the pitching from playing summer ball. I’ve always been pretty good on defense so I’m most proud of my offense so far.”
Unlike some prolific hitters at the high school level, Piessens does not have a batting coach, but she credits her current prowess at the plate to pointers provided by Windham baseball coach Leo Gravell, who has coached her in the summer and has two daughters, Kendall and Peyton, on the team.
“He (Gravell) worked with me and showed me some things a couple of years ago and my confidence (at the plate) grew,” said Piessens.
According to Gravell, it was a matter of slowing Piessens down, making her realize that sometimes the best things come to those who wait, if just briefly.
“The biggest difference with Larissa as a hitter now, versus a few years back, is her patience and willingness to use the whole field,” said Gravell. “She’s always had great bat speed, but sometimes that worked against her in terms of constantly being out in front.
“Once she became more willing to stay back and hit the ball to right field, she really became a more complete hitter. She’s got tremendous power to all fields and when she allows the pitch to travel deep, she’s a very tough to get out.
“Larissa is more than a good hitter. She’s a complete player. She’s a really good base runner and her defensive improvements at short, really impress me the most. If she continues to work at this, somebody is going to get a really good college softball player.”
That’s the goal for Piessens, who already knows that she’d like to play for Bentley. She once looked up to current Bentley player and former Jaguar Rachel Rogers and she recognizes it for its outstanding accounting department, something she’d like to be a part of.
But, unlike the pitches she attacked too quickly when she was younger, Piessens doesn’t want to get ahead of herself. She’s focused on this season and helping the Jaguars sustain their fast start in their first season in Division 1.
“I wasn’t sure how we’d do in Division 1, but we’ve come together and have confidence,” said Piessens. “It started in our first game. We were tied in the last inning and then won with two outs and two strikes when Lindsey Murphy hit one out. That showed that we belonged.”
And, just as quickly, Piessens showed that she belonged as well.