Published on Show Me Mizzou Dec. 16, 2022
Story by Joe Walljasper, BJ ’92
As a freshman in high school, Jenna Laird committed to play college softball for Coach Larissa Anderson at Hofstra University, which is just a few miles from her home in Long Island, New York. When Anderson left Hofstra for Mizzou, Laird had to decide whether to follow the coach to the Midwest.
Laird says she still misses the bagels, pizza and summer days at the beach offered by her hometown, but she has fit right in at Missouri. In 2021, she earned the starting shortstop job and was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year. She followed that up by earning All-SEC honors as a sophomore.
“Once I was here, I thought, ‘This is where I should be. This is where I deserve to be,’” she says.
Laird has a career batting average of .348, and her defense is even better. Last season, she didn’t commit an error in SEC play and earned the Rawlings Gold Glove Award as the best fielding shortstop in the nation.
“We have a lot of philosophies with defense, and basically, you can’t make an error where the ball goes under your glove,” Laird says. “I mean, you can, but if it happens, you have to ‘take a hike,’ which means you have to run to the fence and back. Obviously, I don’t want to run to the fence and back, so I focus on never letting a ball go between my legs.”
To read more articles like this, become a Mizzou Alumni Association member and receive MIZZOU magazine in your mailbox. Click here to join.