By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Strong and steady makes pitching aces and Taylor Stroud more than met the standard in a stellar career at Sacramento State.
Earning All-Big Sky Conference honors as a senior, Stroud added to a body of work among Sacramento State’s best ever. A top starter her first season out of Montgomery, she rose the program rankings to finish among the Hornets’ all-time best in wins, complete games and innings pitched.
“The career numbers are an honor,” Stroud said. “It makes me proud that all my hard work paid off.”
While her final season ended short of the NCAA tournament, Stroud enjoyed another winning campaign.
Highlights included three shutouts to match the team lead and a 1.75 ERA that was second best in the Big Sky. One of her shutouts came in the Hornets’ final home game, and Stroud’s last win was in the season finale.
“To finish like that was just really cool,” she said.
Crediting teammates for her success, Stroud said she will never forget what they did this past season.
“The chemistry we had and how hard we worked was amazing,” Stroud said. “Just the whole team did really well.”
Stroud helped anchor the Sacramento State staff despite tendinitis in her pitching hand the past three seasons.
Such is her competitiveness, aided by a smart approach to stay in games. The injury demanded that Stroud give all she could for the team including commanding a range of pitches to keep offenses largely in check.
“I worked hard on my other pitches,” she said. “My coaches did a really, really good job working with me.”
Success this season was owed to improved slow curves and drop balls. Stroud was not able to throw a hard curve because of the strain it put on her hand.
“In college, teams get scouting reports on you. So it’s important to keep working and getting better,” she said.
Meeting challenges and staying ahead of the competition were Stroud’s hallmarks since starting at Montgomery as a freshman. Stroud would earn All-Empire honors three times, including an Empire Player of the Year and all-state selection.
Sacramento State brought Stroud in to win from the start. She followed with an All-Pacific Coast Softball Conference honor as a freshman. Stroud led the Hornets in appearances, starts, complete games, shutouts, innings, opponent batting average and strikeouts.
As a sophomore, Stroud led Sacramento State in wins, appearances, ERA, complete games, saves, innings, strikeouts and opponent batting average.
The No. 2 starter as a junior, Stroud weathered poor run support, posting the second best ERA in the Big Sky.
“There were times each year where I hit plateaus,” she said. “It really helped me in a way to be mentally strong.”
Always pushing to improve, Stroud returned home to Santa Rosa to train and get stronger. As with her other summers in college, Stroud did not play softball, instead working and helping with youth groups at her church.
Working with children is Stroud’s career aim. She earned a degree in psychology at Sacramento State.
“That’s how you make a difference in life. You have to work harder and get better,” Stroud said.
Capping her career with a bounce-back season was important to Stroud, who received her first Big Sky conference postseason selection.
“I was really blessed to play college ball,” she said. “It really helped create a strong work ethic in me.”
You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.