April 18, 2019 11:20 PM
(ABC 6 News) - There's no doubt that hard work and determination pays off. It certainly has for Taylor Smith.
Years of working toward her senior season and meticulous preparation in the off-season has allowed the Stewartville softball ace to rise in the ranks from backup to starting pitcher where she has taken the reins.
"[Taylor} has really improved in all phases of her game," Stewartville softball head coach Curt Hughes said. "Just her overall confidence level and her coach-ability has changed over the years."
Her impressive work ethic does not go unnoticed by her coach and team all stating that it's what's helped her become a great player.
"Her work ethic is what got her here where she is today," catcher Carlie Hildebrandt said about one of her best friends. "Also as a pitcher, being the backup really helped motivate her to become the best player she obviously could be."
This season, Taylor is honing her craft.
In her first two starts, she recorded a shutout against Goodhue and only allowed one hit in Stewartville's game against Albert Lea.
"I really wanted to work hard in the off-season on pitching so that when we got to the season I would come in a little bit stronger than if i came in cold," Taylor said about her off-season approach.
In the four games she has pitched in, Taylor has thrown a combined 23 innings, with 33 strikeouts and has a 1.83 ERA.
Her talent isn't only limited to defense.
"I really want to be a more powerful and confident hitter…i got on last season but I want my on –base percentage to be higher this year," Taylor added about her offensive game.
The season may still be young, but at the plate, Taylor is hitting 0.429 with a 0.467 on base percentage.
"She's done wonderful things at the plate, she's done great things, obviously inside the circle," Hughes said about his senior ace. "She's willing to put the extra time in, she comes in extra if she needs to. She's really put a lot of effort in to making her senior year a successful one."
Taylor's success in the circle isn't only measured by her stats. A huge part of why she's dominating this season is because of the relationship she has with her catcher, and best friend, Hildebrandt.
"I kind of own everything to Carlie because she's the one who really makes me look good," Taylor said. "She's calling all the good pitches and she's reading the batters. She's on the one that gives me the good frames, is talking to the umps, and helping me out on that end. So, I just trust her to know what's going to happen because she's so smart."
Hildebrandt echoed Taylor's thoughts and says they are practically sisters.
"I spend more time with her than I do with anyone else on and off the field," Hildebrandt added about her best friend. "I've been catching with her since I was probably five years old. So, we've always been there for each other no matter what happens."
Updated: April 18, 2019 11:20 PM
Created: April 17, 2019 07:09 PM
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