Thom settles in as Softball's shortstop
Feb. 17, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas -- Even as the Texas Longhorns were getting ready to kick off their season last week at the Texas Classic, freshman Taylor Thom was running around looking for a trash can.
Player introductions were about to start, and Thom was about to play in her last “first game.” This one was pretty special – the highly touted recruit from nearby Cedar Park was making her freshman debut as the Longhorns’ starting shortstop. But that reality was also unsettling.
“I thought I was going to be sick to my stomach. It was just awful,” Thom said. “I was so nervous. If I wasn’t nervous, it means I didn’t care.”
It didn’t take long for Thom to settle down. She ended a tense third inning against Louisville with a spectacular diving stop and throw that sent the Cardinals to the dugout after stranding runners on second and third. Louisville cleanup hitter Maggie Ruckenbrod hammered a liner up the middle, which forced Thom to her left.
Skidding on her stomach behind second base, Thom snagged the ball, raised to her knee and unleashed a laser to get the inning-ending putout at first.
“Defense, I feel like it comes natural. That settled me down a little bit,” Thom said.
After five games, Thom has six putouts, five assists and a perfect fielding percentage. It took her a little longer, however, to find a groove at the plate. She was 0-for-the tournament until smashing a double in last Saturday night’s semifinal victory.
In the championship rematch with Louisville, Thom hit an RBI double, then cranked a first-pitch home run over the leftfield wall.
“It was amazing. To just play is amazing, but to score runs and contribute to this team is really amazing,” Thom said.
Thom’s natural personality and fight have carved her a place on this team. Her walk-up song – “She’s Country” – tells you everything you need to know about the 5-foot-5 sparkplug. Born and raised in the Austin area, Thom enjoys spending free time fishing and hunting.
The Thom family has a ranch in San Angelo, and she tagged her first buck when she was nine. This season, she added more antlers to her trophy case.
“It’s something I’ve been doing with my dad since I was little,” Thom said. “Fishing is what I really enjoy.”
Thom’s entire family – parents, brothers, both sets of grandparents – was in the stands for her debut, and she’s looking forward to four more years of the nervous excitement she enjoyed last weekend, upset stomach and all.
“Wearing the burnt orange is an amazing feeling already,” Thom said.