Since an early age, former Shelbyville Central softball standout Taylor Sanders has excelled playing softball, but none can compare to her junior season she recently completed at Western Kentucky …
Since an early age, former Shelbyville Central softball standout Taylor Sanders has excelled playing softball, but none can compare to her junior season she recently completed at Western Kentucky University.
But more importantly in her eyes, the Hilltoppers excelled as a team as well, posting an impressive 38-13 record.
"This past season, the team did really well. We battled against some of the best in the country. We broke several school records. A few of those being best start in program history, best start through 10 games (9-1), new attendance record, and a new .745 winning percentage with," Sanders said. "We beat ranked No. 5 in the nation Alabama 3-1. We were the regular season East Division champs and made it to
back-to-back championship games."
Had it not been for an upset loss in conference tournament championship, the team could have made a run in the NCAA tournament.
Sanders' numbers were very impressive as she had her best season as a collegiate student-athlete, posting a .347 batting average with 11 home runs and a team season record 54 RBIs. She had a .960 fielding percentage while playing third-base.
She was named Second Team All-Conference, All-Tournament Team, Third Team All-Region and was named Conference USA Player of the Week two times this past season.
"This past season was the best season of softball on and off the field for me in a long time. Our team culture was absolutely amazing. We had weekly bible study meetings with our FCA mentor. I really think that helped us grow closer together and become more than just teammates. With mental health being highlighted in today's world, especially having the amount of pressure to do well for your school, teammates, coaches, and parents and family, it is easy to lose yourself and make softball your identity. It was really nice to just have people to talk to and know I'm not the only one and it will get better. It was easier to be for each other on the field when we knew what the person beside us was going through off the field," Sanders said.
After a stellar high school career Sanders signed with Western Kentucky and head coach Amy Tudor. She admits there’s a learning curve playing the next level.
"High school softball and college softball are like day and night. The pace of the game is a lot faster in college and it's a really hard adjustment. When you get to college, you're not the best player on your team anymore. Everyone there is just as good, if not better than you. It is a very humbling experience, but it forces you to want to work harder and make the coaches have to find a spot for you. Finding confidence is really hard when you fail time after time, but being surrounded by people that care about you and a coaching staff that wants you to live up to your greatest potential it is easier to find. I'm really grateful for my experience at Western. When you trust in the process and the coaching staff, the results will come," Sanders said. "I am pushed constantly and hopefully this upcoming season I will live up to my greatest potential.
As great as this past season was, she looks forward to even bigger and better things in her senior season for both her and the team.
"We lost a few key players this past season. However, we are returning a lot of starters. I feel like with the help of the new transfers and the returning underclassmen we will be in a good position. Talent is always great to have and you will win a lot of games, but if the team culture is there, that's when you win championships," Sanders said. "For me personally, I am entering my senior year and will graduate with a bachelor's degree in Healthcare Administration in May 2023. I am also working towards my master's degree in HCA while being an undergrad student. I hope to graduate with my masters in May 2024. As for now, I am going to work on my weaknesses and strengths in softball and try to stay as healthy as possible.
I could care less about personal awards. All I want is another regular season and conference tournament championship title and a chance to compete on the biggest stage with my teammates."