Feb. 22, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
After having second thoughts, Hunter Taylor is excited to have a second chance with the Gamecocks. The junior catcher had decided to transfer after last season, but after some soul-searching over the summer, he decided that South Carolina was indeed where he needed to be.
“I wanted to see if I could go somewhere to get more playing time, but then during summer ball, I thought about it some more,” Taylor said. “I really love this team and love all the guys on the team. They’re all my best friends, so I knew there was no reason for me to leave. I decided I wanted to come back and hopefully win a national championship.”
As part of a very deep catching staff, nobody could blame Taylor for wanting to play every day.
“I think Coach understood when I told him I wanted to transfer somewhere that I could play more,” Taylor said. “Then in the summer, when I called him back and told him that I didn’t want to leave, he was excited. We were both excited.”
He has the utmost respect of every player in our locker room, and our coaching staff believes in him big-time as well.
“I just love being here and being around the guys every day,” Taylor added. “I love the coaches. Everybody treated me great when I came back. It was like I never left.”
“Hunter is just a hard worker,” said head coach Chad Holbrook. “He probably has as much respect in the locker room as any other player on our team. He is just a beautiful kid to coach. Our pitchers love throwing to him. He’s a leader. He has the utmost respect of every player in our locker room, and our coaching staff believes in him big-time as well. I can tell you that if the season is on the line, we’re not afraid to put him in there. I think we showed that last year.”
Taylor was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team last year after playing a key role in pair of South Carolina postseason wins. He stroked the game-winning RBI double in the ninth inning in a 4-2 win over Duke, and followed that up with a pair of hits and another run batted in the next day in a victory over UNC Wilmington to help the Gamecocks reach the NCAA Super Regional.
Even with his postseason success, Taylor had no problem with coming back and proving himself all over in what again is a deep talent pool to play catcher along with returning sophomore Chris Cullen and returning junior John Jones.
“I think we’re all good enough to play,” Taylor said. “I think whomever is out there will do a good job. I have experience since I’ve been here for three years. I’m a salty veteran, I guess.”
Even when he is not on the field, Taylor believes he can still play an important role on the team.
“I can just be supportive in the dugout,” Taylor said. “I want to be there to help keep our younger guys in check. We’ve got a lot of really good young guys on the team. They just haven’t played yet, so I can just try to show them around and how to do it.”
Having heard the roar of the crowd at Founders Park, Taylor is proud to be wearing the Garnet and Black again and looks forward to doing his part to help the Gamecocks make another run at a national championship.
“Playing here is unbelievable,” Taylor said. “It’s something I can’t describe. It’s amazing. I’m just looking forward to playing and winning. I think we’re all that way. We just want to do better than last year. That’s our goal. I don’t really have any individual goals. I just want to do what it takes to win.”
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