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|Taylor Hoagland and her Texas teammates are fired up as the regular season winds down and postseason play looms.|
My name is Taylor Hoagland, and I am a senior infielder for the University of Texas Longhorns softball team. I am a born-and-raised Southern girl from the best country in the world: Texas. Because I am from the best state, it was only natural for me to attend the best school: the University of Texas at Austin.
I began my love affair with softball at the age of 4, learning how to swing a bat before I could ride a bike, do math or dress myself. That probably explains why I ride a longboard, avoid calculus and send pictures of outfits to my teammates so they can tell me which one would look best.
My grandfather introduced me to softball when he bought me my first pink baseball tee with a matching bat-and-ball set. Visiting my grandparents’ house was not your typical milk-and-cookies tea party like most little girls experienced. It was more like a tie-up-your-cleats-and-get-your-butt-in-the-backyard-so-I-can-teach-you-how-to-play-better-than-the-boys party.
My idols growing up were Jennie Finch (of course), Michele Smith and Crystl Bustos. They were all members of the USA Olympic softball team, and my inspirations to one day play for Team USA myself. Before any of that could happen, I had to get to college first.
As if trying to be cool in high school weren’t stressful enough, I had to start thinking about choosing a college. I obviously knew I wanted to play softball; I just had no idea where. I had my sights set on Texas A&M (oh, the irony).
Looking back now, I didn’t really know much about the school, other than my best friend was heading there and it seemed to be full of cowboys. Two very logical reasons to go there, right?
I remember hearing that the University of Texas head coach, Connie Clark, had some interest in me and I thought, “Yeah right, like I would ever go to UT. Definitely not.”
Fortunately, at the time, my mother was just a wee bit smarter than I was and forced me to go on a visit to Austin. I knew nothing about UT, other than the football was awesome and the school color was hideous.
But as soon as I opened my car door and stepped foot on campus, it was like tasting chocolate for the first time. At that moment I knew Austin was going to be my home for the next four years. I verbally committed to Coach Clark and the Longhorns just after my sophomore year of high school and haven’t looked back since.
We are playing the back half of our conference schedule now but are far from being done with the season. After Big 12 play ends, the NCAA tournament will fire up. I think I can speak for the entire Longhorn team when I say we hope to go ALL. THE. WAY. And take the Longhorns back to Oklahoma City!
I hope y’all will follow us for the remainder of the Big 12 season and join us on our journey toward the Women’s College World Series.
Until next time … Hook ’Em!