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Rawl brings the complate package to Koalas

Posted: June 17, 2014 8:57 a.m.
Updated: June 18, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Numbers and actions speak louder than words. And Taylor Rawl was bigger on the former pair than the latter in helping turn the Lugoff-Elgin softball team into a force in the state’s 4A ranks.
A four-year starting catcher for the Lady Demons, Rawl helped Coach James Marlow’s charges come within a whisker from earning a berth in this past spring’s 4A Upper State championship tournament, having lost a 5-4 decision to Northwestern in the District III finale.
Rawl, a four-time all-conference selection and a member of the 2014 High School Sports Report’s 4A All-State Team, capped a memorable senior season and career by signing a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and softball pursuits at Columbia College.
She made things official last Thursday in a ceremony inside the L-E Wellness Center in which she was joined by her family as well as her Lady Demon teammates and those from her summer travel softball squad.
In addition to her post-season awards, Rawl saved the best for last as the 2014 L-E graduate batted a career-best .473 in her final go ‘round for the red and blue. That capped a four-year career in which she hit for a .386 average with four home runs, a dozen triples, 25 doubles while driving in 61 runs and scoring 81.
Those numbers suggest a team leader. Marlow said what the soft-spoken Rawl lacked in being a “rah-rah” type of motivator, she more than made up for by her actions on the practice field and in the games themselves.
“Taylor didn’t necessarily lead with her voice,” said the Lady Demon head coach. “She led with her competitiveness, her heart, drive and ambition. She was never a vocal leader, but she led by all that she did in her actions.”
Thursday served as the centerpiece of a star-studded career for Rawl who said she was relieved now that the recruiting process was finally over and her college plans secure.
The connection between Rawl and Columbia College was made through her summer league coach, Tim Blizzard, whose daughter Erin was L-E’s junior All-State pitcher this past season. He was the go-between for Rawl and Koalas’ softball coach James Morrison.
“It was, sort of, a last-minute decision. I wanted to play college ball forever, now,” Rawl said with a smile. “Tim Blizzard, my travel ball coach, actually got me recognized by (Morrison.)
“One of my friends on my travel ball team decided to play at Columbia College and she told me good things about it. I talked to the coach and he seemed like an awesome coach … it really was an easy decision.”
Having never batted below the .356 mark which she posted as a freshman, Rawl was a four-year starter behind the plate for L-E. In a position from which coaches do not usually expect to have a threat on the base paths, she swiped 36 bags in 41 career attempts.
On a young Lady Demon squad, Rawl was a rock in playing one of the most important positions on the field. She was someone Marlow could pencil into the lineup each time he handed the sheet to the home plate umpire.
“It is going to be extremely difficult to replace Taylor Rawl behind the plate,” Marlow said. “She was a four-year starter back there and she developed a rapport with our pitching staff.
“With her lightning-quick reactions and being able to throw runners out … she set the bar very high. She’s been helping out Sophie Holland, who we plan on having as our future catcher, and they worked side-by-side this year. Hopefully, some of the things from Taylor will have rubbed off on Sophie.”
Having played the game since the age of nine, Taylor Rawl did not start out as a catcher in youth softball. She was moved behind the dish at L-E. In summer travel ball, she has played all around the diamond. She said that will help since she does not plan on staying as a catcher at Columbia College.
“(Morrison) has seen me catch but I am looking more toward outfield or, shortstop. I’ll play wherever he decides to put me,” she said of her college position.
Confident that she can play wherever she is needed in the field, Rawl has been playing “a little bit of everywhere” for her travel squad. “It’s going to help me a lot,” she said of being able to play multiple positions in the field. “It’s going to get me used to playing more positions other than catcher. It will get me more in the zone to play in the outfield.”
“It doesn’t matter where they are going to put her,” Marlow said. “Taylor’s going to be successful because she does put in the hard work.”
Marlow said Rawl has the mindset to become a force for the Koalas and expects nothing less of Rawl, who also played volleyball in the fall for the Lady Demons. One thing the Lady Demon boss said Morrison will not have to worry about is Rawl’s making herself a better player in the off-season.
“I think, right now, she can go and start at Columbia College,” Marlow said. “I think she’s going to start four years there.
“Taylor is probably the hardest-working young lady that I’ve come across since I’ve been here at Lugoff-Elgin. She’s one of the first ones to show up and one of the last ones to leave. In the weight room, her weight room coaches have said that she is probably the strongest young lady that we have at the school.
“The hard work that she has put in after hours is the reason that she is still playing ball. She is an excellent athlete with good character. She is going to be very successful.”
Rawl said her workout  routine will be altered in college as the Koalas have early morning workouts to prepare for the season.
“I’m a morning person, but that’s not what I’m used to here,” she said with a smile in talking about the sunrise sessions. “It’s going to be different.”
The signing fulfilled a lifelong dream of playing softball in college for Rawl who said that she started believing she could play at the next level during her freshman season at L-E. She said she found the perfect landing spot at Columbia College.
“I like that everything is close together,” she said of the campus. “(Morrison) told me that the teachers like to focus on athletes because they know about their busy schedule. I like that because that’s something that I need; to get along with the teacher. The classes are also going to be smaller, which I like.”
Marlow said that given its proximity to Kershaw County and the success which Columbia College has had in softball, the school and program are a perfect fit for Taylor Rawl. The Lady Demons’ head coach said Morrison and the Koalas got a steal in the signing of the former Lady Demon standout..
“I think a Division I school missed out on Taylor Rawl,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I think it’s great that she’s going to college where she is, but I think some bigger schools may have missed the boat on Taylor Rawl.”

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