Webb earns first team NAIA All-Region
WILLOW WOOD — After her first day of practice with the Rio Grande RedStorm softball team, Taylor Webb was ready to go home.
But after three seasons, the only home she visits regularly is home plate.
The former Symmes Valley Lady Vikings’ All-Ohio outfielder vividly remembers her first practice and making a phone call to her father Rusty Webb who is the Vikings’ head football coach.
“My freshman year I was terrified. Everyone was bigger and stronger than me. I called dad the first day and said, ‘I don’t know if I can play here.’ He said, ‘You’re fine. Just hang in there. You can play there.’”
And could she ever.
After a monstrous season, Webb and teammate Caitlyn Brisker were among the 144 student-athletes from 64 programs who were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association NAIA All-Region team.
Webb — a junior — was named to the All-Region VI first team while freshman Brisker was named second team.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team and my coach (Chris Hammond). They pushed you every day. They don’t let your slack or take a day off,” said Webb.
Webb batted .436 with a team-high 11 home runs and 70 runs batted in. She also led Rio Grande with 95 hits, 25 doubles and 161 total bases. She was second on the team with 54 runs scored.
In the postseason this season, Webb was 15-of-26 for a .577 batting average. She had six doubles, three home runs and eight RBI. She ranked second nationally in hits, RBI and total bases while being third in doubles.
Webb was a first team All-RSC and was named Player of the Webb three times.
Brisker was the RSC Player of the Year and ranked third in the nation in triples. She missed the team’s first 17 games due to being a member of the women’s basketball team.
She hit a team-high .446 with eight triples, 59 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and a .797 slugging percentage. She was second on the team with eight home runs and third in doubles with 12 and RBI with 36.
Webb said she isn’t concerned with statistics. In fact, she sees it as detrimental to her game.
“I don’t pay attention to it. That’s a bunch of outside noise. I didn’t know about (awards) until it came out in the article. I never paid attention to it when I was growing up,” said Webb.
“You want to look, but then I feel like I need to get another hit to get my average up, so I stay away from it. I don’t want to know.”
Although all spring sports teams in high school and college missed their spring seasons last year due to COVID-19, Webb said she found a silver lining in what was a dark gray cloud.
“It kind of helped me. When the season ended (in the fall) all our bats just started getting heated up. When I got to COVID, I still went to the field and hit or did something every day. I feel it helped me. I was seeing the ball better and hitting the ball better. Everything just kind of click this year,” said Webb.
The RedStorm tied the school record for most wins, won the regular season River States Conference championship as well as the conference tournament, and qualified for the NAIA regional tournament.
“I’m pretty happy with what happened. We got to the championship game of the regionals. I would have liked to go to World Series but we came close to it,” said Webb.
“We only lose one (starter). We have three seniors coming back for a fifth year. One of our really good pitchers was a freshman, our first baseman was a freshman and our leftfielder was a freshman,” said Webb.
“We clicked as a team. I couldn’t be happier with what we did as a team this year. The dream is to win it, but just to be able to step foot in the World Series would be great.”
The NFCA awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association’s six regions with first and second team selections. NFCA member head coaches from each respective region vote on the teams.
Those players selected All-Region become eligible for the NFCA NAIA All-America teams that will be announced on Monday.