We are excited to announce that we had the opportunity to catch up with former Nebraska All-America and current National Professional Fastpitch Softball League (NPF) catcher, Taylor Edwards. She graciously answered a series of questions for us so that young softball catchers can have a sneak peak into the career of an elite level fastpitch softball catcher. Check it out below!!
Name: Taylor Edwards
Home Town: Murrieta, CA…SOCAL!
“The Creation of A Catcher”
I grew up in Murrieta, CA a fairly large city; always something to do or always somewhere to go being in a family of 6. I started playing softball with my fraternal twin sister, Tatum, when we were both 4 years old. The love for sports started with my dad, Brian, who was/is crazy athletic in every sport that he played and still tries to play today. He played baseball in high school but started playing Men’s Professional Slow-pitch. He was a third baseman and pretty damn good if you ask me. Six points shy of the Hall of Fame; its pretty awesome.
I fell in love with the game at a very young age since I was at the ball field almost every weekend before I was born and every weekend since for 24 years. I started playing third and catching right away because those were the positions my dad played and I loved watching him while growing up. My sister started pitching and once my dad figured out she was good and could continue the position I was sold on being a catcher; since of course it only makes sense to have one daughter be a pitcher and the other daughter be a catcher. Not only was it great to be able to catch my sister, I absolutely fell in love with the connections I built with my teammates, pitchers, and the gear.
Growing up, I always loved putting the gear on. Having it on makes me feel unstoppable. I love the way the field looks through my mask; there’s no better feeling or view!! I felt proud to get behind the plate and work every pitch of the game. I was always close friends with the pitchers on my teams since I would spend so much time with them and talk with them. Talking and getting to know my pitchers made me love catching more because I wanted to be the best catcher I could be, not only for myself, but for them. They made me be a better teammate by wanting to do more for someone else. My favorite part about catching after all these years is still being able to put the gear on and represent something that’s much bigger than me. I have always felt there was something different about catchers. In my opinion, catchers have always been the backbone of a team. Whether its with their presence behind the plate or the pride they show in doing the little things right (examples: framing, blocking, called timeouts for pitchers/gathering teammates together, the pitch calling strategy, communication/trust with the coaches).
Let’s Talk About Recruiting….
My recruiting process started when I was in 14U travel ball. My team was always in showcase tournaments with college scouts/coaches watching. My head coach was always in contact with the college scouts/coaches communicating about our personalities to see if we would fit into the program and our athletic abilities and where we matched up against 14U players across the country.
Nebraska was the first school to show interest in both Tatum and me; we were always a package deal. Coach Rhonda Revelle had sent us hand-written letters telling us her interest. I had no idea where Nebraska was but once I received that letter, Nebraska was at the top of our list.
Tatum and I took unofficial visits to multiple schools and after every visit we would write down how we felt being there. How we felt about the campus, classrooms, weight rooms, facilities, people, surroundings, teams, coaches, and internal feelings about being at that school. Once we had decided on two schools, we had gone through our lists and relived our visits and Nebraska was the perfect fit.
Being A Pro and Winning Championships
My senior year of college was the first year I had heard of the National Professional Fastpitch Softball League (NPF). There were multiple managers from the teams in the league who were interesting in me playing and had contacted my college coach (Coach Revelle). When she had first told me about this opportunity I was shocked because I had no idea there was an opportunity to continue playing softball after college, let alone a team be interested in me. I was drafted by the Pennsylvania Rebellion and both Tatum and I played with that organization for one year. We were traded to the Chicago Bandits the beginning of 2015 and have been with them since. We have won Back to Back Championships and I could not be more thankful and proud of each one of my teammates. It was such an awesome feeling to win with the group of women in 2015 because of the chemistry we all had. We were a very strong team physically and mentally, but at the professional level everyone is great. You could feel the love each player had for one another and the amount of respect for the game we all had. That had carried us through the long and stressful season but we overcame the adversity as a team. In 2016, the Chicago Bandits were a totally different team. We had lost three key veterans before the season and another key player at the beginning of the season due to injury. It was a struggle the entire season to get every piece of our talented group working consistency but in the end, we found a way. We had eleven new faces to the team. That’s a lot of people to get on the same page and also giving themselves up for the better of the team. Each player was able to let go of their college roles to take on a new individual role to better the team within weeks. Like I said, it was tough but we all stuck through it and trusted each other and we got it done once again and were Champions.
At the beginning of this year, 2016, I had the opportunity to play overseas in Japan. It was something I had thought about doing but never thought possible because I had never left my twin. We were always on the same team or even in the same classes growing up. It was tough enough that I would be a completely different country but being away from my other half was the ultimate challenge. I knew softball was going to be the same because softball is universal; but starting my own journal as Taylor and not Tatum and Taylor was something new. It was such an awesome experience getting to know and see how softball was played in Japan. The culture and atmosphere was something I’d never experienced in the states. Each team had their own cheerleaders with drums and every single pitch there would be cheer to be heard. That type of feeling of the crowd being behind you every pitch, just like a teammate, was something I’ll never forget. I am honored to say I will be playing in Japan for 2017 season and I’m so honored to play for team Denso.
Advice For Amateur Catchers
Lastly, the advice I would give to catchers wanting to improve and pursue a college experience or beyond is to be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your pitchers. Accept your strengths and weaknesses. Work on the little things to become the best you can, almost like a perfectionist. Love working hard day in and day out. The more honest you can be with yourself and the pitchers at an early age, the better and easier softball results could become. Honesty is key to building trust and you need trust in yourself and pitchers to have a great connection on the field. Great teammates win championships. It might take a long time for you to win a championship, it took me until two years ago to win my first championship, but it will happen eventually. Championships in softball or in life. Trust that failure will make you a better player and person in the end. See the good in the bad things that happen. LOVE the challenge of the game and RESPECT the game.