By Dom Joseph
Youngstown State University alumnus, Stevie Taylor, is back on campus for the spring of 2019 as a graduate assistant coach for the Penguins softball program.
Taylor, who graduated in 2018, was a third baseman for the Penguins for four seasons. After her time on the diamond was up, she was determined to remain a part of the program.
“I love the sport,” Taylor said. “Getting the opportunity to come back and coach was something that I always wanted to do.”
In Taylor’s four years at YSU, she posted 18 home runs, 21 doubles, 76 runs and 79 RBIs. She was a four-year letter winner, and helped the Penguins win 103 games in her career.
The coach of the Penguins, Brian Campbell, has brought on the former slugger to help with both offense and defense.
“Campbell has me working with players on the corners [first and third base],” Taylor said. “He also has me help out with hitting occasionally.”
In a unique situation, Taylor will begin her coaching campaign with players she had as teammates in years prior. Nearly a dozen of the players on the Penguins roster have once shared the diamond with the former third baseman.
“It’s pretty cool. It helps because I know their personalities,” Taylor said. “I know how to approach certain players, which is really helpful for me and them.”
While Taylor’s former teammates welcome her back to the squad, she knows that continuing to build relationships will help her as a coach.
“A lot of times, the players will be reading how the coach feels about certain things, and that’s huge,” Taylor said. “It’s nice though, I can be there for them and give them the players side, as well.”
As an accomplished hitter, Taylor is leaned on by the team for advice and tips when stepping into the batter’s box. When it comes to a strategy, she explained it simply — just relax.
“The biggest thing I can tell them to do, that I should’ve practiced a little more myself, is to just relax,” Taylor said. “They’ve been doing this for years, keep a clear mindset, go out there and just be competitive. A lot of times pitchers can pick up on anxious hitters that are going to swing at everything. I’ve been there. I just remind them that you need to have confidence in yourself.”
Taylor understands the pressure of being a Division I athlete as much as anyone, but knows that confidence can be a big difference maker.
“You get to this level and the pressure is put on to make that big hit, but they need to be patient but stay competitive,” she said.
Taylor’s expectations for 2019 are clear-cut — win and win some more.
“I want to win a championship,” she said. “It was something I never got to do when I played. I’m hoping we can put that on the board.”
She said the team has hit some rough spots, but the team is starting to connect which can lead to victories.
“We’ve got a lot of good newcomers on the team and a lot of great players returning,” Taylor said. “We’re definitely going to have to start competing more, but we all know that. We’re connecting really well as a team, We’re hitting better now, there really isn’t much more that you can ask for.”