Prep softball: LeBaron winning big for Taylorsville
A typical freshman athlete is just hoping to make a high school team.
If all goes well, there could be some playing time at the sophomore level or perhaps a few starts on the junior varsity team.
Getting any playing time on the varsity level is out of the question for most high school freshmen.
Not for Taylorsville's Jaycie LeBaron.
She not only played varsity as a freshman, she won 18 games for one of the top Class 5A softball programs in the state.
Needless to say, she's one of the state's top rising talents.
"She's done really well for us," Taylorsville coach Rich Kaelin said. "She knows she needs to work on her stamina. You live and die by your pitching, and I think that's what's been happening with us. She is still a sophomore, so she still has her ups and downs. The biggest thing was she was our only girl last year. This year we have four freshmen, so we haven't had to rely only on her. For instance, in the Syracuse game, she came in and got the save and did a nice job."
LeBaron may have help, but she's still getting the bulk of the work. Taylorsville is 6-6 entering the week, and she's 4-3 so far. She now has 22 career wins, and region play hasn't even started.
"I try to keep batters off-balance," LeBaron said. "If they're swinging ahead of the ball, I will use my changeup. I love my changeup. I'm confident when I throw it. I also have a drop ball a rise and a curveball that I can throw."
It's quite a repertoire for someone one says she never had a pitching coach until she met former BYU pitcher Paige Affleck at a clinic. Affleck began working with her to get more zip on her fastball and to throw her offspeed pitches for strikes.
"I started working with Paige last spring, and she helped me so much," LeBaron said. "She helped me with my rotations and my push off."
The results were an 18-6 record as a freshman and a force to be reckoned with for the next three years.
"As a freshman, I was kind of scared going into it, but my teammates helped me a lot," LeBaron said. "They were really supportive of everything. They wouldn't point out my negatives, only my positives. We have a pretty young team this year, but I think we should do really well this season. We have a great bunch of girls, and I'm excited to see where we will go."