Prep Signing: North Rowan softball star Sells staying close with Catawba
By Mike London
SPENCER — North Rowan senior Taylor Sells started her athletic career as a competition cheerleader.
She’ll finish the prep portion of that career as the most prolific slugger in county fast-pitch softball history. At last count, Sells had launched 29 career homers, including 13 bombs her sophomore year.
Putting those numbers in perspective, the recognized NCHSAA records are 37 homers for a career and 19 for a single season, so Sells is up there on the state level.
More homers are expected in Sells’ future. Probably a few more before her senior season is in the books, and possibly a lot more at Catawba’s Whitley Field in the years to come.
Taylor’s father is Kirby Sells, who was an intense nose guard for North Rowan football in the mid-1980s. He’s intensely excited that she decided to sign with Catawba.
“I’ve wanted her to play at Catawba for a long time,” Kirby said. “Some other doors opened up for her, but when she decided Catawba is where she wanted to go, I couldn’t have been more pleased .”
Closeness and familiarity were factors for Sells, who has worked with Catawba assistant coach Adrian Gantt for years.
“I’m happy,” Sells said. “It will be easy for my parents to watch me play. They’ve got a very good softball program and I also like the science program.”
Sells has been a good year-round athlete for the Cavaliers. She brought her father’s intensity to the basketball court, made bushels of 3-pointers and finished her career with more than 500 points.
She also played volleyball in the fall, and that kept her in shape. It’s softball where she’s been really special, though.
She got just one pitch on the inner half of the plate in North’s recent home game with Albemarle, and didn’t miss it. She hit it a rocket over the fence in left-center.
North played a YVC road game on a baseball field, and while she didn’t reach the 300-foot fence in left field, she did hit one over the outfielder’s head for an inside-the-park homer. The homers all run together after a while, although Sells recalls some of the big ones.
“The one I remember the most is the grand slam I hit when we beat East Montgomery,” she said.
Besides playing for the Cavaliers, Sells played travel ball for the Rowan Rage and for the Carolina Attitude, coached by Keith Stanek. Stanek attended her recent signing festivities.
“When the Attitude calls you, you go,” Kirby said. “ It’s that prestigious.”
Sells swings the bat so efficiently and with so much power that she’ll have a chance to fight her way into Catawba’s lineup early in her career. She’s batting well over .600 this season, even though she gets pitched around frequently.
Her teammates appreciate her.
“She’s just a hard-working girl,” infielder Brianna Mock said. “She’s been a very good teammate. She picks us up and never lets anyone give up.”
Sells has a strong right arm. She’s played mostly shortstop in her career because North had Samantha Jacobs, now a freshman at Belmont Abbey, available to do the pitching. But with Jacobs graduating in 2012, Sells has taken care of the circle for the Cavaliers as a senior.
“Taylor has stepped up and done a nice job of pitching for us,” North coach Sarah VanBuskirk said. “She’s very driven and I think she can do whatever she sets her mind to on a softball field. I know she wants to play shortstop for Catawba, and I think she’ll do what she has to do. We went to watch Catawba play the other day, and she believes she’ll fit in well.”