The lineups for the Truman State University softball and baseball teams feature a great depth of talent. In particular, sophomore outfielder Christa Reisinger and senior third baseman Jason Priest have excelled for their respective teams.
Reisinger leads her team and ranks first in the GLVC in batting average with .512 and 88 total bases and second in on-base percentage with .576. Priest leads his team in the aforementioned categories, but also leads his team in RBIs with 31.
Each is accustomed to operating in different spots in the lineup — Reisinger in the leadoff spot and Priest in the middle of the order. Their duties and mindsets usually differ during the course of the game, but they both believe the players that precede and follow them in the order contribute to their success.
Christa Reisinger leads off softball’s offensive attack
Reisinger said she has been leading off games since her sophomore year of high school. Her career as a student-athlete has given her experience in various lineups. Regardless, she said the goal of a leadoff hitter should be the same.
“My main focus is to try to get on [base], so that gives us a chance to score,” Reisinger said.
While Reisinger doesn’t monitor statistics often, she said a high on-base percentage is a key indicator for a good leadoff hitter. She said having a plan every time she steps up to the plate allows her to focus on the short-term goal of reaching first base. She said she has to face a different pitcher almost every game and become familiar with their arsenal on the fly.
Reisinger said seeing multiple pitches from a new pitcher helps her settle down and focus on the pitches she can hit instead of ones designed to fool her. She said this can also help her teammates because they’re able to see a larger sample size than just the warm-up pitches. She said repetition is important to her and the team’s success.
“I really like working in the cage to get a feel for my swing,” Reisinger said.
Softball Head Coach Erin Brown has watched Reisinger since she was a freshman at Troy Buchanan High School in Troy, Missouri. Brown said everything about Reisinger then impressed her. Convincing her to attend Truman was easier when she knew about Reisinger’s interest in agriculture, and Brown introduced Truman’s agriculture business program to Reisinger.
Now that Reisinger is in the middle of her second season as a Bulldog — and receiving the most at-bats in the order — Brown said the team is benefitting from her skillset. She said Reisinger is a total package in the sense that she is able to bunt for hits, swing away to drive balls in the gaps and run well on the basepaths. She said all these facets add up to a talented leadoff hitter.
“It sets the tone for your team, so having a strong leadoff hitter is important,” Brown said.
Brown said Reisinger keeps the defense on its toes because it is difficult to determine what Reisinger is going to do to reach base. She said the defense’s unease doesn’t cease when she does reach base because Reisinger is then focused on her long-term goal of coming around to score. She said Reisinger is adept at stealing bases because she leads the team and GLVC in that category with 25, but it is just as dangerous when running from first to third, pressuring the defense to make mistakes.
Brown said teams might eventually realize Reisinger is too much to handle at the plate and opt to intentionally walk or pitch around her. She said it’s beneficial for the following hitters to be in the zone turn a decision like this into Bulldog runs.
Priest as a threat at the plate
Priest said he initially wasn’t going to attend Truman after verbally committing to play at Illinois State University during his sophomore campaign at Illinois Central College. He said the reputable academics, along with the baseball program’s recent success at the Division II College World Series, made the final decision simple.
Priest said he was primarily a catcher when Truman recruited him, but they were plans to move him to third base. He said he played quite a few games at third when he was in high school but only a couple innings in college. Nevertheless, he said the transition didn’t bother him too much because he was used to balls coming at him quickly as catcher.
Priest said he has always been strong, and it has kept him in the middle of lineups for the entirety of his career. He said having years worth of opportunities certainly helped him become familiar with hitting with runners on base. Last year, former Bulldog catcher Joey Gardner helped him develop a consistent mindset and mantra when digging into the box in those situations.
“I’m the man for the job, and there’s nobody better in this situation than I am,” Priest said.
Priest said he takes a certain level of cockiness — but not arrogance — up with him to the plate. He said this instills confidence in him and stresses he needs to be selectively aggressive.
“It’s always credit to the guys in front of you,” Priest said.
Baseball Head Coach Dan Davis said there was no doubt in his mind that Priest could be a run producer. Davis said he kept Priest in the fourth spot every day last season because he believed in his ability. He said he eventually moved Priest down in the order, but he hasn’t moved him out of the fifth spot at all this season.
Davis said Priest is laying off breaking balls and looks more relaxed at the plate. He said it’s important to treat every at-bat as the same and the batter should try to pick out a pitch he can handle.
While Priest provides great value as a run producer, Davis said he also has value in the clubhouse as a leader and teammate people can rally around. He said Priest has done an excellent job at third base since they moved him there.
Priest’s contributions notwithstanding, Davis said he still believes the players around Priest put the senior and the team in a good position to succeed.
“One guy can’t have success without the guy before him or the guy after him,” Davis said.