Batbusters standout Taylor Rowland continues pipeline to Lady Vols softball

Rowland to play softball for 'dream school'

Taylor Rowland is anxious to continue the Orange County (Calif.) Batbusters’ pipeline into Big Orange Country.

Rowland, a junior first baseman/outfielder at Ayala High School in Chino Hills, Calif., has committed to play softball for Tennessee and will become the third player from the Batbusters’ program to don the Lady Vols’ orange and white uniforms.

The other former Batbusters were third baseman Raven Chavanne and first baseman/outfielder Melissa Davin.

Chavanne was a senior last season and led the Lady Vols in batting average (.435) and earned All-America honors.

Davin started 24 games as a junior last season in left field, 22 games at first base, and hit .294.

UT co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly have established a solid relationship with the Batbusters.

“They’re great people, that’s for sure,” Batbusters co-head coach Doug Myers said of the Weeklys.

The Weeklys also gave that impression to Rowland, who committed last fall after an official visit for a football game.

“I just loved the whole atmosphere and how much everyone really put into the (UT) athletic programs, especially the Lady Vols’ athletic programs, and I loved Coach Ralph and Coach Karen,” Rowland said. “I’m so happy they’re going to be my coaches. I just loved everything that they’re about.

“They’re at a high level of softball, and that’s where I want to be. Everything just seemed to fall into place. It’s like my dream school.”

During travel ball this year, Rowland hit .415 and had a .780 slugging percentage (through early September) while batting in the middle of the lineup. She hit .407 and had a .704 on-base percentage last spring in high school.

Myers said Rowland has the intangibles to go with a big bat and sound glove.

“She’s just an awesome kid, a great chemistry kid,” Myers said. “She really works on her game each and every day. One of the greatest things about her is she doesn’t over-think when she’s at bat. A lot of kids, especially when they’re struggling, they put a lot of pressure on themselves.”

Myers said Rowland displayed her coolness under pressure in June during the Best of the West tournament in California.

Many of the nation’s top softball coaches were scouting the tournament — including one of the Weeklys — when Rowland ripped three home runs in two games.

Myers saw Rowland hit that way all summer.

“The biggest thing is she hit in key situations when we might be down a run,” Myers said. “She’s a situational hitter when we had people in action. She hits the ball up the middle. She’s become a good defensive player, something she really worked on. All of the other players like her. She’s just a neat kid.”

Rowland will join a Lady Vols program laden with players from California.

Seven Californians were on last season’s team that reached the Women’s College World Series championship series, and Rowland is one of several commitments the Weeklys currently have from California.

Rowland says she knows “three or four” of UT’s California commitments, including Ashlee Snyder of Lakewood, Calif. Snyder, a sophomore shortstop at Mayfair High School, plays for Team Mizuno in Orange County, one of the Batbusters’ opposing programs.

“I’ve talked to (Snyder) a few times, and met her once,” Rowland said. “We’re not close friends, but we’re friends.”

Like Snyder, Rowland has followed the Lady Vols’ program for years, and she kept a close eye on the UT’s run to the WCWS title series this past season.

“I watched every game,” Rowland said. “It was so awesome to know that I’m going to be a part of that in a few years, and it just made me feel so incredibly blessed.”

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