North Buncombe High rising senior Monica Taylor rattles off her reasons for committing to UNC Wilmington, and they’re obvious.
The Seahawks had everything she was looking for when it came to college softball, on and off the field.
But the best part is that the coastal North Carolina school still has a program at all.
Gary Miller calmed a lot of fears in May when the UNCW chancellor rejected the recommendation of a committee, he appointed, to cut five sports — softball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s cross-country and men’s indoor track.
The move would have saved the university $890,000 per year.
Taylor received her scholarship offer from the Seahawks shortly before the committee’s recommendation became public.
“I literally could not sleep,” Taylor said. “I was shaking. And then I was super happy when they decided to keep softball. (UNCW) was always my No. 1 choice.”
Taylor was an All-Mountain Athletic Conference and All-WNC catcher/shortstop this spring, which was her third season as a Black Hawks team captain.
She was also voted North Buncombe’s most valuable player after batting .403. Taylor’s fielding percentage was .940, and she was part of the N.C. Softball Coaches Association’s all-district and all-state teams.
Taylor expects to play catcher at the next level and said she also considered the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, Princeton and a walk-on opportunity at South Carolina.
Taylor and her family traveled to Wilmington in late June to commit personally to coach Kristy Norton and her staff. Norton is about to begin her second year at the school after going 16-37 last spring.
“I’m definitely excited to make this decision and know that I can just go into my senior year and have fun,” Taylor said.
“There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about (UNCW). I liked the coaches and the girls on the team. The classrooms and dorms are nice. I can ride my bike to class, and the beach is only five miles away. That’s always nice.”
Taylor’s father, Dan, is the winningest college baseball coach in Mars Hill history with 232 career victories. He just completed his first season as Enka’s baseball coach with a 9-16 record.
Taylor is the only rising senior from Western North Carolina to report a college softball commitment to the Citizen-Times.
“It was definitely helpful to have my dad (involved in the recruiting process),” Taylor said. “I can’t thank him or my mom enough for everything that they have done for me.”
Taylor is one of only four North Carolina players on the Tennessee RIP travel team coached by Mark Conkin.
“Monica comes from a great family and has great instincts for the game,” Conkin said.
“She is a coach’s daughter who really knows how to coach the game and gives you 100 percent on every play. She’s a really heady player and just one of those kinds of people who don’t come around very often.”