Nearly two years ago I conducted my first Q&A with a Pittsburgh Panthers softball player; it was senior infielder McKayla Taylor. At the time, I didn’t know much about the team or collegiate softball for that matter. Since then, I have regularly tuned in to watch the Women’s College World Series as the pace of the game is very exciting.
With the bases just 60 feet a part, it opens the game up to a multitude of offensive strategies, while defenses must remain decisive and sharp. But what really jumps out to me is the passionate and love of the game that’s always on display by the coaches and players during the games.
You won’t find a better example of this than McKayla. Not only has she become a professional softball player in the American Softball Association (ASBA), but she’s also worked to grow the game internationally for the next generation of players.
I am extremely grateful that McKayla was able to answer my questions below.
Q1: At what point did you consider playing pro softball, and how did you hear about ASBA?
“Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always had the dream of one day becoming a professional softball player. Even though my dream was always to eventually play professionally, what seemed more realistic growing up was to work towards getting a college scholarship first then go from there. I don’t think it really hit me that I had a chance to play pro until my junior year at Pitt. I heard about the ASBA towards the end of my senior year in which a scouting agent for them got in contact with me.”
Q2: How was playing in the ASBA similar to playing at Pitt, how was it different?
“The thing that was the most similar between the ASBA and Pitt was the team dynamics. The friendships and relationships I created at both of these stages in my career is something I could never get anywhere else and couldn’t be more thankful for my past and present teammates.
The dynamic at Pitt definitely differed from that of the ASBA. At Pitt you really had to be good at managing your time and knowing that school and softball takes importance over your social life. When you’re a student athlete you have a strict schedule you need to follow, whether it’s for training or school purposes. While at the ASBA our sole job was to play softball. Playing 6 days a week leaves no time for practicing or training as a team. Because of this it was left all up to us on how we spent our free time and if we got our workouts in or not.”
Q3: Going into the draft earlier this month, you were one of just seven players that were protected by their respective teams. How did it feel knowing that the E1 Pro Ballers didn’t want you to take the chance of another team drafting you?
“When I found out I was being protected by the E1 Pro Ballers a lot of different emotions come to mind. The two that stick out were shocked and flattered. I definitely wasn’t expected to be protected but this just went to show that my hard work and dedication last summer paid off. The E1 brand is a privilege to represent and the fact that I was wanted for another summer meant a lot.”
Q4: Aside from playing professional softball for the ASBA you also just concluded a professional season in the Netherlands. Can you describe what that experience was like?
“Playing pro ball in the Netherlands was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. By spending three months there I was able to fully immerse in another culture and get a better understanding of the Dutch lifestyle on and off the field. On my days off I had the privilege of being able to coach younger Dutch girls and even though there was a language barrier sometimes it was so cool to see that the passion for the game of softball can bring such different people together. My teammates were the ones to show me the ins and outs of their country and how valued the sport of softball is. During my time there I was also able to explore many countries in Europe including Italy, Belgium, London, and France. Once again I have God and softball to thank for leading me to this amazing opportunity and showing me parts of the world I use to only dream of seeing. This experience was very eyeopening for me and I am so excited to see what the future holds for me in all aspects of my life.”