MCGILL: McCord Found Home Behind Plate, At Marshall
The Word on the Herd -- May 4, 2018
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Taylor McCord is so perfectly suited for her role behind the plate that one could say it fits, well, like a mitt.
That has been the case for the Arizona native since she put on a Marshall softball uniform in 2015. Even in her first collegiate inning – Feb. 6, 2015 against Army – McCord entered in the fifth and promptly picked off a runner. She has been torturing opposing baserunners ever since.
“Taylor is pretty elite at what she does behind the plate,” Marshall coach Jen Steele said. “I think she is one of the best catchers in the country. She’s really aggressive behind the plate and she’s always looking to shut down the run game and pick runners off. You get a lot of catchers who are passive and don’t want to make a mistake or don’t want to make a throw. That’s not the case with Taylor. She’s confident she can throw on anyone.”
Entering this weekend’s three-game home finale against Middle Tennessee, McCord is the school record-holder for runners caught stealing and is second all-time in pickoffs.
“She has a plus arm; she manages the game well,” Steele said. “Her softball IQ is very high. She’s a coach’s kid – her dad coached – and she sees the field well.”
McCord is no slouch with the bat, either. She has played in 211 games in four seasons, including 202 starts while primarily playing catcher. She is No. 10 in program history in home runs (18), No. 7 in RBIs (124) and tied for third in doubles (43). McCord has started all 52 games this season, managing the physical toll of catching. In addition, Steele named McCord one of the team’s two captains, a role the native of Gilbert, Arizona, embraced.
“She’s super mature,” Steele said. “She’s never too high; never too low. She’s respectful. She’s done a really nice job in the leadership role this year. Taylor is one of our captains and she’s handled it with a lot of grace.”
McCord began her education on the diamond at a young age, although success did not come quick. She started in tee ball and played baseball with her brother for a few years before transitioning to softball and travel ball.
“In Little League I wasn’t very good,” McCord said. “I didn’t get a lot of chances to play.”
She called herself a utility player, and she eventually found her niche inside the pitcher’s circle. Colleges took notice, and she began receiving recruiting interest as a freshman and sophomore in high school.
McCord, though, felt her calling was behind the plate. She could put on the mask and shift the spotlight to her teammates. Her experience as a pitcher made her a better catcher, she said.
“I understand how quick the game can get away from you,” McCord said. “I understand the thought process about how we have to have intent with every pitch. A lot of times I needed someone to keep me focused and stay on top of me, and me being a catcher now I can see the other side of the pitcher’s mindset. I don’t want their job, but I enjoy being able to be behind them and try to make them look good.”
That mindset has come in handy this year as Marshall looked to replace Jordan Dixon, the Conference USA Pitcher of the Year in 2017.
“She’s handled a young, inexperienced pitching staff who is doing well, and I know having her back there has given them a lot of confidence,” Steele said.
The 2018 honors have yet to roll in, but McCord was the C-USA all-conference first team catcher in each of the last two seasons. She twice earned an academic medal from the league, and has made four consecutive appearances on the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
McCord made the most of her journey to West Virginia, from the first inning to the end.
“This opportunity I’ve been given to represent this university and represent myself is special, but the best part is the people, for sure,” McCord said. “I have met incredible people here. Both sets of coaches I’ve been lucky enough to play under, my teammates and I’ve been lucky to meet all of them because they made me better and made my experience something I’ll never forget.”
Overall, Marshall will honor six seniors this weekend: Jordan Colliflower, Elicia D’Orazio, Caitlin Gale, Madi Marshall, McCord and Eloise “Weezy” Tribolet. All but Gale have started a combined to appear in 205 games this season entering this weekend’s series. Gale was medically disqualified prior to the 2018 season and moved to student assistant coach in the offseason.
“I’m really lucky to take over the program that I did and the senior class that I did,” Steele said. “This senior class is special for a lot of reasons. You have two players who have jumped out into the spotlight and have had illustrious careers in Taylor McCord and Elicia D’Orazio. Jordan Colliflower had a hit streak this year and she’s a local product. She rode that 23-game hit streak and the ball looked like a beach ball to her. Madi Marshall has been one of the most special kids I’ve ever coached. Caitlin Gale has so many ties to Marshall and bleeds green and white. And Weezy, she’s transitioned really well.
“It’s a special class and we’re going to miss them a lot. We had five of them starting at one point. We were starting every senior … and from a production standpoint we’re going to miss them, but from a leadership standpoint, too. Taylor and Madi are incredible captains, and then you combine that with Weezy’s work ethic, Jordan being light and free and a person who teammates like being around, and Elicia’s ability and her talent and being elite at what she does, and then you have Caitlin’s love of Marshall. It’s the perfect combination. We’re going to miss them.”