When the Live Oak softball team gets to work this fall, there is plenty of work to do.
No reason to miss a chance for a head start on that, and that’s exactly what Lindsey Rizzo and BreAnna Corkern had in mind this summer.
The two Lady Eagles’ seniors turned in a successful summer with the Louisiana Blazers Elite Gold to help lay the foundation for 2018.
Rizzo is back after a strong season in the pitcher’s circle for Live Oak, while Corkern will likely fill an infield spot after the departure of six seniors, three who earned All-Livingston Parish honors.
The two Lady Eagle veterans were also All-Parish – Rizzo in the circle and Corkern as a utility player.
“This summer prepared us very well for fall workouts,” said Corkern, who played third base and second base for the Lady Eagles and catcher in summer ball.
“This year in high school ball, Lindsey and I are definitely going to have to be leaders because we’re going to be such a different team. A lot of girls have to step up and fill some different roles and that starts with us as leaders.”
Rizzo is at the tip of that spear as one of the top returning pitchers in a loaded District 4-5A.
Stepping in for 2016 Parish MVP Savannah Hall, Rizzo helped Live Oak barely miss a beat on the way to a 21-9 finish and a spot in the Class 5A state semifinals. She notched a 21-9 record from the circle as the Lady Eagles nabbed a share of the 4-5A crown with a Central team that climbed to the top of the Class 5A heap with a state championship.
In summer play, Rizzo played for both the Blaze and the Iron Teeth, a team made up of players committed to Southeastern Louisiana’s program.
Playing second base and shortstop – where she projects at the college level – Rizzo swung the bat at a .471 clip and then .462 in the final two showcase events she played in.
“I’m glad I can move back and forth between positions and pitching,” Rizzo said. “When I was younger, I was used to pitching non-stop, but when I got to 12U, I told my dad (and coach) that I didn’t want to pitch any more. I was starting to have some back issues and wanted to focus on hitting and playing middle infield.”
When longtime LOHS coach Michelle Morris went looking for somebody to step in for Hall, Rizzo was quick to jump to the front of the line, though.
Rizzo emerged as the primary starter last pre-season and remained in that spot throughout the 2017 season. She notched the Lady Eagles’ three playoff wins, including a 7-4 decision vs. St. Amant when she shut down the Lady Gators’ potent offense.
“I was ready to be back out there,” Rizzo said. “I have told my last few summer coaches that I can pitch if they need me to, and I have thrown a little bit. But I expect to be back out there (in the spring) for school ball. I think I’ll be pretty comfortable out there.”
Corkern has made a habit of finding a comfort zone wherever Morris needs her. With junior Brett Leiva well-entrenched as the Lady Eagles’ starting catcher after back-to-back All-Parish seasons, Corkern knew she needed to be versatile and ready to do whatever her team needed.
So when Morris told her to give second base a shot last spring, Corkern embraced the challenge.
“Since I’m going to be a senior, I have to set the right example and show the other girls that I’ll be ready to play wherever Coach needs me to,” Corkern said. “Last year she put me at second base right before our first district game and I had a lot of fun with that. I had never played there before, but I think I did well with it and it became my new home. Coaches always want players who will play wherever they can without complaining.”
Offensively, Corkern has set lofty individual goals that figure to benefit the Lady Eagles.
Last season Giselle Ash was the dominant presence in the Live Oak lineup on the way to earning All-District 4-5A recognition for a fourth year in a row. Corkern wants to fill Ash’s shoes and last season showed she is capable: She batted .492 with 35 RBIs and 3 home runs.
“Hitting-wise, I want to be that somebody the team counts on and leads in a lot of different ways,” Corkern said. “We have some holes we need to fill and I want to be one of the girls who leads the way.”
Rizzo likes what she has seen from her teammate, who has committed to Pearl River (Miss.) Community College.
“She’s been working so much harder than ever,” Rizzo said of Corkern. “She’ll call and ask me to go hit or throw on days when we don’t have practice and that’s great because we need to step up because we’re going to be the seniors. We have to be ready to work harder than anybody else and she’s shown that she’s ready to be at that level.”
Randy Rosetta is Sports Editor of The Livingston Parish News.
You can reach him at (225) 610.5507 or RandyR@LivingstonParishNews.com.
Follow on Twitter: @RandyRosetta | @LPN_Sports | @LPNews1898