It is almost impossible to explain what Taylor Nearad has accomplished in her high school softball career without relying heavily on statistics.
Attempting to put into perspective what Nearad has done the past four seasons, without mentioning she has more than 300 career hits and 240 career RBI, is a challenging task.
The only thing more difficult would be trying to get Nearad to care about, talk about, or even look at her own statistics.
“I honestly never looked at stats, none of us did,” Nearad said. “Coach (Jim White) always tells us that if you look at your stats you are kind of being selfish because it’s supposed to be about the team so our entire team, we never looked at our stats until the end of the year.”
Whenever Nearad decides to take a finally peek at her senior season stats she is going to see a line that rivals any in the state.
Nearad posted a .538 batting average this season while posting career highs in doubles, home runs (11) and runs.
Her 29 doubles rank second in the state while her 65 runs and 84 hits were both third-most in Iowa.
The left-handed hitting center fielder led the state with 75 RBI and helped Solon to a 42-3 record and the Class 3A state title.
For all of her achievements Nearad has been named the 2015 Press-Citizen prep softball hitter of the year.
“The neatest things about her, and this is what is really neat about coaching great kids, is that every swing that she was taking was for her teammates,” White said. “She was always about moving runners and doing those types of things and never batted an eye when we asked her to do them. That takes a special person, a special athlete.”
Whether she paid attention along the way or not, Nearad piled up an impressive list of career statistics.
Nearad had at least 60 hits and a batting average of .491 or better in each of her four seasons as a starter.
A career .522 hitter, Nearad was a four-time all-state selection — including a first-team pick each of the last three seasons.
Nearad finished her high school career with 301 hits, including 97 doubles, 241 RBI and 225 runs.
“I have had close to 30 kids go Division I and she is in the top three or four hitters I have ever coached,” White said. “I just love her approach at the plate, she is very coachable and she just has a knack for hitting the middle of the ball, she has that great hand-eye coordination.”
During her freshman season Nearad managed 14 extra base hits, 13 of which were doubles, and had 39 RBI.
Since that season, Nearad has raised her extra base hit total each year.
As a senior nearly half of her 84 hits went for extra bases, highlighted by a career-high 11 home runs.
I never expected to hit a home run, whenever I hit one I didn’t feel like it was a home run, I felt like it was pop fly,” Nearad said. “We worked on being violent in our practices and that just worked out.”
Perhaps the only thing Nearad did better than hit over the past four years was hit under pressure.
Nearad went 7-for-9 at the state tournament this season and homered in all three games as Solon won its first title since 2007.
The state title was the second of Nearad’s prep career after she helped the Solon volleyball team to the 3A crown last fall.
“I think being a multi-sport athlete and being a setter on a state championship volleyball team where you are calling the shots, you are a coach on the court, I think that helps her a ton at state,” White said. “Plus she has been around the game for so long. She really, really understands the game, just the way she plays defense and offense and does what needs to be done.”
Named the captain of the Class 3A all-tournament team, Nearad had six extra base hits and nine RBI in nine at-bats at the state tournament.
Nearad owns a career .564 batting average at the state tournament after going 14-for-19 with 11 runs and 11 RBI the past two seasons.
This year’s performance came with Nearad battling a quadriceps injury that White feared would keep her out of the title game.
“It was pretty painful but I definitely knew I was going to keep playing,” Nearad said. “I wasn’t going to stop just because it hurt. I wanted to win so I kept going.”
Nearad’s two-run home run off Benton Community all-state Amber Fiser gave Solon a 3-0 lead in the title game.
She described the sixth-inning blast over the center field wall that helped Solon atone for last year’s runner-up finish as the biggest hit of her life.
It also erased the disappointment of four state runner-up finishes (including volleyball) that Nearad had been a part of.
“Coming in second place is definitely one of the worst things ever,” Nearad said. “Second place is really good but losing that last game is very tough, so to be able to win my last game ever here was amazing.”
The most impressive statistic for Nearad this season wasn’t her home runs or her batting average.
It was striking out once in 165 plate appearances, and her explanation for her knack for making contact proved how serious Nearad was about neglecting her stat-browsing.
“I had no idea I did that,” Nearad gasped when asked about on striking out once. “Really? I have no idea how I did that. Our whole team was in it for each other. We weren’t worried about striking out or stats or anything like that, we were in it for one another. We knew we were doing it for our teams and not for individuals.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
•Position: Center field
•Hits: 84 (3rd in the state)
•Runs: 65 (3rd in the state)
•2B: 29 (2nd in the state)
•RBI: 75 (1st in the state)
•Multi-hit games: 28