Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications
Louisiana Tech head coach Josh Taylor announced the addition of three student-athletes to the Bulldog softball program as Elena Heng (Airline HS/Bossier City, La.), Laney Johnson (North Desoto HS/Stonewall, La.) and Ryleigh Shull (Lincoln County HS/Hamlin, W.V.) all signed national letters of intent.
“We are really excited about this class,” Taylor said. “We are bringing in a left-handed pitcher, right-handed pitcher, and a left-handed bat with speed, which fits exactly what we need with this class. Ryleigh and Laney are dynamic pitchers in very different ways in the circle. We are excited to combo those two for years to come. Elena is a dynamic player that brings difference-making speed to the table. All three of our signees are fantastic people. The caliber of human beings we bring in with these three is off the chart. As students, they have incredible GPAs and test scores, and their softball IQ is also off the charts. We are extremely excited to welcome these three in.”
Heng’s athleticism has allowed her to excel at numerous positions during her three seasons at Airline High School, where she has played under former LA Tech standout Katie Smith. She was named the district MVP and first-team all-district shortstop in 2023 after posting a .465 batting average. In 2022, Heng was named first-team all-district and all-state as a center fielder. As a freshman in 2021, she earned first-team all-district recognition as a catcher while also taking home honorable-mention all-state honors while helping lead the Vikings to a runner-place state finish.
“We are excited to welcome Elena to Ruston and the LA Tech Softball family,” Taylor said. “Elena brings a solid left-handed bat and speed to our program. She is a dynamic player who understands softball and loves to compete. We could not be more excited to welcome Elena to Louisiana Tech.”
Heng played travel ball for the Titans Baker in 2023 and posted a .406 batting average. In addition to softball, she also participated in archery, cross country, and indoor and outdoor track.
“I love the atmosphere at Tech, and they have a great program that I am looking forward to studying,” Heng said. “Nothing feels more at home than Louisiana Tech.”
Johnson is an in-state talent from North Desoto High School, where she has helped lead the Griffins to three consecutive state titles (2021, 2022, 2023) while lettering four times for head coach Tim Whitman.
“We are excited to welcome Laney to Ruston and the LA Tech Softball family,” head coach Josh Taylor said. “Laney is a tall right-handed pitcher who also brings an explosive bat. She is also a wonderful student who will excel in the classroom. We could not be more excited to welcome Laney to Louisiana Tech and our softball program.”
Johnson has brought home an abundance of accolades during her prep career. The right-handed pitcher was named the District MVP and 4A Louisiana Player of the Year in 2023 after leading the Griffins to a 35-2 record on the way to their third consecutive state title. She is a three-time LSHAA all-state and LSWA All-State selection while being named All-Area Player of the Year twice. The Stonewall, La., product played travel ball for Impact Gold Tate 18U. Johnson chose the Lady Techsters over Oregon State, Central Arkansas, ULM, Kennesaw State, McNeese State, and many others.
“I chose to come to Louisiana Tech because it is the perfect place for me,” said Johnson. “It is near home, and the coaches and facilities are top-notch. I am glad Louisiana Tech is my future home, and I can’t wait to be there soon.”
Shull comes to Ruston from Hamlin, W.V., where she prepped at Lincoln County High School while playing Travel Ball for Team North Carolina Hinde. Shull is a dominant left-handed pitcher and is nationally ranked as the No. 36 player in the 2024 class by Extra Innings Softball. She earned first-team all-state honors in both 2022 and 2023.
“We are excited to welcome Ryleigh to Ruston and the LA Tech Softball family,” Taylor said. “Ryleigh is a dynamic left-handed pitcher with command of multiple pitches and understands how to get hitters out. She also brings with her an unbelievable work ethic and strong values. Ryleigh is also an outstanding student who will excel in the classroom. We could not be more excited to have Ryleigh put on the LA Tech uniform and represent this wonderful university and softball program.
Shull posted a 1.2 ERA, fanning 93 batters and limiting opponents to just a .233 batting average against her while pitching for Lincoln County in 2023. She also wreaked havoc at the plate with a .432 batting average and six home runs. Shull batted .406 with 35 home runs and eight RBI as a sophomore while posting a 2.76 ERA in the circle as a sophomore helping lead the Panthers to a third-place finish in the WVSSAC Class AAA State Tournament.
The West Virginia product also put up impressive numbers in travel ball with a 2.2 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 54.2 innings pitched during the summer of 2023. Shull was dominant during the PGF Premier Nationals, where she struck out 16 batters without yielding a single run and limiting opposing hitters to a .109 average in 13.2 innings of work.
“I chose Louisiana Tech because of the outstanding academics available, the beautiful campus and community, and the incredible coaches,” Shull said. “The growing softball program and family-like atmosphere made the decision a no-brainer.”