@LATechSB Middle Infielders Form Quite the Pair
May 20, 2017
By Josh McDaniel
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.. -- There have been some iconic duos throughout the annals of time.
Batman and Robin. Abbott and Costello. Bert and Ernie. Katie and KJ.
Wait? Katie and KJ?
Louisiana Tech's middle infielders, shortstop Katie Smith and second baseman Karlee Jensen, are quickly etching their names onto the list of iconic twosomes. The two came into the Lady Techsters Softball program in the fall of 2014. The pair met in a preseason workout, and soon realized thereafter how much they had in common.
"Whenever we first came to Tech, KJ was shy: wouldn't speak,” Smith recalls fondly. “She was just shy. I'm one of the most not-shy people there is, so I broke the ice between me and KJ. As time went on, we just figured out we are basically identical people.”
The two friends are not roommates, but they are inseparable during softball season.
"We didn't want to get sick of each other, so we don't live together," Jensen said.
Their friendship has produced profound results on the field for the Lady Techsters. Louisiana Tech has posted a league-best 1,187 putouts, and they have recorded 28 double plays, second in Conference USA to UTEP's 30.
"There's a lot of trust," Smith said. "My back can be completely turned to KJ on a play in the hole, and I know that I can turn around, whiz it to her, and she is always there."
Last weekend, the Techsters won their first conference championship since 2008 in a thrilling 1-0 victory over FIU, but they were forced to win it without half of their dynamic duo. Smith failed concussion protocols after suffering a concussion in Tech's final regular season series.
Right fielder Jazlyn Crowder got the call to fill in for Smith, so Jensen was forced into a bit of a different role.
"It was definitely tough,” Jensen said. “I had to be a little more talkative with Jaz and let her know on every play; Katie usually does that for me. Jaz really came up spectacular. She took the role like a champ.”
"It was hard for me to watch from the dugout, but there was never a time when I wasn't extremely engaged and extremely emotional,” she said. “I have never been more proud of someone in my life as I was of Jaz.”
Katie should be back in the six-hole for the NCAA Tournament, and she'll rely on KJ to keep her grounded on the field much like Katie lifts KJ up off the field.
Karlee is a native of Taylorsville, Utah, and she went through a bit of culture shock when she came to Louisiana. Katie, a native of Shreveport, helped ease the transition.
"Having someone who is my best friend who lives down here definitely helped me," Jensen said. "She helped me to try new things like crawfish, and she made Louisiana feel like home."
The two friends have three different handshakes together, and the duo has been on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll each of the last three seasons.
All that is missing is a nickname for the pair. The two do not yet have a catchy name like "Bennifer" or "Brangelina," so for now it is just Katie and KJ, the perfect double play combo on and off the field for the Lady Techsters.
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