Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera Coyotes softball player Taylor Brooks signs her National Letter of Intent to attend La Sierra University during a signing ceremony at Madera High School on Feb. 16. From left are Ashley and Jonathon Carabajal holding Cain, Brooks and Kemberly and Mathew Brown.
Madera Coyotes softball lead off hitter Taylor Brooks will head to a new home after graduating in June.
Brooks is following in the footsteps of Madera’s previous lead off hitter. She signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball at La Sierra University in front of family and friends on Feb. 16.
Mariah Davis, who is in her senior season at Bethune-Cookman University, set the table for Brooks to head to La Sierra. Brooks is the school record holder for stolen bases in a season and will move in the top five of a number of offensive categories.
“She’s our table setter,” head softball coach Judy Shaubach said. “She starts our offense. She’s really improved since last year and has become a lot more poised at the plate. She’s slowed down and taking her time to put the ball in play. She’s gotten a lot better at making choices on pitches. She’s fast and one of the fastest players in the outfield. She chases down balls well and has a great arm.”
“It’s crazy to think about my legacy,” Brooks said. “I want to break records to where they are unbreakable.”
Shaubach said Brooks has come a long way since her freshman season. Brooks had just four at bats her freshman season, but was used as a runner and scored eight runs and stole five bases. However, she has batted more than .400 her sophomore and junior seasons.
“She’s come along and upped her game,” Shaubach said. “She is a great kid, has a good work ethic and comes to play every day.”
Brooks, who also had schools from the East Coast interested in her, chose La Sierra because it’s in California (Riverside) and close enough for family to watch her play.
“I didn’t really want to go that far,” Brooks said. “My mom wanted me to go far so I can experience the college life, but I didn’t want to go that far. I wanted to be closer with family.”
However, since Brooks made the decision to stay in California, Brooks’ mother plans to move closer to Riverside.
“My mom likes it because she is going to move where my family is in Boron, which is about an hour and a half away,” Brooks said.
Brooks was in a tournament and made an impression on a La Sierra softball coach.
“Their coach went to my coach and said he was going to watch more games that day, Brooks said. “He talked to me after the tournament.”
Brooks made an official visit to the school and was sold.
“The campus was so pretty,” she said. “There were waterfalls all around campus. The campus was nice. There were girls playing softball so I was able to meet the girls. The girls were welcoming and I didn’t feel uncomfortable, at all.”
After a not-so-glamorous freshman year, Brooks’ sophomore season, which she batted .400, gave her thoughts of playing softball in college.
“That’s when I really started doing good,” she said. “That was probably my best year in high school. I felt like I actually started listening to the coaches and that allowed me to get better and better. Once I started getting better, I felt I was actually good and could move on.”
Brooks has had a 3.5 grade point average in four of her first six semesters at MHS. The other two semesters were a 4.0. She plans to major in criminal justice to become a CHP officer.
After signing her National Letter of Intent, Brooks felt all the pressure of playing for people go away and intends to enjoy her final high school season.
“I want to just have fun and play the game,” Brook said. “Since freshman year, I had to impress this person and these people. Now I know where I’m going, I can sit back and just enjoy playing the game and not being under pressure.”