Each week, the Tallahassee Democrat will feature a Q&A with a former prep athlete in the Tallahassee area. Taylor Rossman, a former Florida High pitcher, is preparing for her senior year at Jacksonville University.
Rossman played from 2006-12 for the Seminoles, and she was a three-time All-Big Bend first team selection. Additionally, she was the 2010 and 2011 All-Big Bend Player of the Year, and was the Class 4A Player of the Year in 2012 while guiding Florida High to the state title game.
Rossman had a career 84-24 record in the circle with a 1.04 earned-run average and 1,125 strikeouts. She threw 12 no-hitters and two perfect games.
She took time out of her busy schedule to give us the details on her first three years with the Dolphins’ softball program and how she projects her final year of college may go.
Question: Your dad, Rick, has been Florida High’s coach for 15 years. Your sister, Stephanie, starred at Florida High before going to Mercer. What is it about softball that it is so ingrained in your family, from your dad to your sister to you?
Answer: “Growing up, I’d go to all my sister’s games, and then I started playing softball. It was kind of the thing between me and my dad to do in our relationship. We’d always go outside and play catch. He’d catch me pitching and it was always just our thing to do.”
Q: After such a dominating high school career, did you think you would dominate in college as well?
A: “No, I did not, because my sister played and she told me college was very different. And it really is. It’s a whole different level of competition. I knew I was going to have to work hard and learn from the upperclassmen as I came in.”
Q: What was your biggest struggle adapting to the college game in your freshman year?
A: “I think a new environment. You get used to one environment and I struggled mentally, to be honest. When you get to the collegiate level, it’s a whole new mentality. It’s not about are you good enough, because in college everyone is good, but do you have a strong mentality to win.”
Q: You had a 5-7 record and 3.81 ERA as a freshman, and a 3-10 record and a 4.03 ERA as a sophomore. But last year you seemed to finally figure out a few things out (8-9 record, 2.80 ERA). What changed in between freshman year and junior year?
A: “Well, we got a new coach and it really helped a lot. Again, it was about mentality. She would ask ‘What do you think when you’re out there facing hitters?’ Basically she just told me that I need to think ‘I control the hitters.’ That was really a turning point. After that, I did a lot better.”
Q: What expectations do you set for your senior year given that each year you’ve kind of built on the previous ones?
A: “I just want to continue to work hard and keep the mentality that I control the hitters. I’ll work hard for my team and hope for the best.”
Q: Do you see yourself now as an ace of the staff? It’s basically been three years since you’ve been the ace.
A: “I think I have the ability and potential to be. There’s going to be three really strong pitchers next year. Any one of us could be, but I think I have the ability to be the ace.”
Q: Now that high school has long passed and you can look back on all the things that happened, what is your favorite memory that stands out among the bunch?
A: “Probably when we finally beat Bolles and we went to the state semifinal in 2011. It was a really close game (3-2) and I was up against their best hitter. It was me and her. I was better in that moment, and we ended up winning. We’d never beaten them before, so it was really big for us.”
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