Taylor Mitchell wants to be the first person in her family to play at the college level.
The BFA-Fairfax softball star was going to be one of the state’s most feared returning pitchers this spring — and this year, her junior campaign, was the crucial one to draw the attention of college recruiters who are eager to land high school commits.
But that path, for now, has been delayed after the Vermont Principals’ Association’s April 30 decision to cancel the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Certainly junior year is the big year and any stats you can accumulate — barring any unforeseen injury — this would have been a very big year for her,” Fairfax coach Geri Witalec said. “It’s a bummer, but it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of where and what’s the best fit. She has a number of schools interested in her.”
Mitchell, the team’s ace, went 14-2 in 2019, leading the Bullets to the Division III championship game for the second straight year. She compiled 161 strikeouts and yielded just five walks with a 1.68 earned-run average. She batted .430 at the plate with 28 RBIs in 19 games.
In the title game, Mitchell took the defeat despite a 14-strikeout, no-walk performance.
“I was really hoping to actually win the championship this year,” Mitchell said. “I understand why (there’s no season), to keep people safe and healthy, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less to not have a season.”
Life without softball has taken an emotional toll on Mitchell, who formed a great love for the sport at an early age.
“It’s one of the hardest periods I’ve been through,” said Mitchell, who lives in Fletcher. “I would always have softball to lean on if I was stressed or having a hard time in school.”
And with no in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year, Mitchell is missing out on “the ability to connect in school on a regular basis to work on the recruiting and college selection process,” Witalec said.
“Unfortunately both of those aspects have been sidelined for now,” said Witalec, also the Franklin County school’s assistant principal and athletic director.
Mitchell also must weigh an opportunity for an early college program at Clarkson, one that would see her head to upstate New York next year — meaning her high school career would be over.
“I have to choose wisely,” Mitchell said.
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