Taylor Howell was one of the most consistent softball players in the Atlantic Coast League last year and was sure to rip up the new Cape and Islands League this spring. Unfortunately, she never got the chance, thanks to her senior year getting cut short.
Taylor, the daughter of Chris and Chrissi Howell, has been a standout with the Lady Knights throughout her high school career. The team’s starting catcher, she was rock solid both behind the plate and at it. In the classroom she was an all-star as well, earning awards for Dedication to Excellence in geometry, forensic science and AP chemistry. In sports she was twice the SHS volleyball team’s Sportsmanship Award winner and a four-time ACL all-star in softball. She also won the Coaches Award for the swim team her senior year.
Her trusty Easton Ghost bat is her most-prized possession. She loves all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. “NCIS” is her favorite TV show and Surfaces is her favorite band. Taylor works as lifeguard for the Town of Barnstable during the summer, as well as the Sandwich Little League snack shack.
How did you get involved with softball? How much do you enjoy it?
I joined softball so long ago that I forget how I got started! I do know that I played T-ball when I was young and switched over to softball around third grade. I sucked, no joke, I was a ride or die bench player for a couple of years. Then I started going to Cape Cod Baseball Club with my brother and I got better. That year I got moved from minor league to the majors because they were afraid my hitting would scare the other girls. Softball became my sport, I would put it over everything. I missed the last two days of school in sophomore year to go to a softball tournament. I came late to my freshman homecoming because I was at a fall ball tournament. It’s cheesy, but I don’t have the words to describe how much I love the game.
What went through your mind when you found out that your senior year had been canceled?
I was heartbroken, after watching some of my best friends graduate last year I was so excited to do it for myself. I have always been the younger one on a team, and it was going to be my year to be the leader. Although I am sad about losing my senior year, I’ll at least be playing this summer for an 18-plus team for Cape Cod Chaos with all my friends. Next time I get to play I’ll just pretend that it’s my senior game.
You served as a catcher for the Blue Knights. How difficult is it to be behind the plate for every game?
It’s a challenge, the catcher sees everything. You have to be the field general from the beginning to the end. A catcher’s job doesn’t stop, you have to watch the batter, call a sign, and watch for players stealing. Then when the ball does get into play you have to be the one surveying the field, talking to the rest about what plays to do. I love all of it though, I’m definitely someone who thrives on the constant calculations you have to make. Catchers are also the ones that usually get the heat too. A coach can’t risk yelling at the pitcher and risk setting off their game. Being a catcher is a hard job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You were known as one of the toughest players to strike out in the Atlantic Coast League. What is your approach at the plate?
A lot of people walk up to the plate only thinking about hitting a home run, or fearing a strikeout. My stance has always been that any contact is good, don’t walk up trying to be the hero. Just do your job and make contact. I kind of black out when I am up to bat, people will ask me “how did you know that was the ball to hit?” and I’ll be like “I don’t know, I kinda just swung.” My dad has always said that in practice you can think about your swing, but once you walk up to the plate, just hit the ball.
You also spent time with the Sandwich High swim team. What was that experience like? Are you pleased with how your senior year went in the pool?
The swim team is the underdog sport of Sandwich High School. We have 60 of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet and some of the best athletes in the school. This year I got to take a leadership role for the team, and it was the best experience ever. I love that team with all my heart, the coaches included. I encourage anyone to join swim. I joined sophomore year knowing nothing about competitive swimming and now I am someone who can say that they can successfully swim butterfly. For my last year of swimming I did pretty well. I placed seventh in the 100 fly at championships for our league, and I swam a sub 30-seconds 50 freestyle.
If you could replay one game that you have played in, which one would it be? Why?
I would replay the last home game that I played at the high school. If I had known that was the last time I would play on that field as a Lady Knight, I would’ve cherished the moment just a little longer.
What do you consider the highlight of your athletic career so far?
My first out-of-the-park home run. A lot of the fields on Cape that we play on don’t have fences. So according to every baseball player ever, my home runs don’t count because there wasn’t a fence. So on a July afternoon in Taunton I was playing for Cape Cod Chaos and I hit one out-of-the-park home run off a first pitch. I didn’t even notice that it had gone out until I was halfway to second and I saw the center fielder turn around empty-handed. Rounding third and seeing all my teammates cheering was the best feeling ever.
Who is the best teammate that you’ve ever played with? What makes that person stand out?
It is hard to pick one teammate when there are so many that I love, but I’d have to say my battery mate Rahne Turley. We have been playing together for a really long time and we just mesh so well together on the field. Rahne is a goofball, but on the field she is a focused pitcher. Well except for the time that she had me call a timeout because she saw a cute dog. I think her ability to zone into the game is amazing.
Do you have any sports-related superstitions? If so, what are they?
When I am getting ready, it’s socks, then pants. And you got to wear the Crocs on game day, you just have to.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?
Sports have taught me time management, being a high schooler that is not just an athlete I have to be able to find time for everything else that comes with life, like homework and household chores. You have to learn how to find time for everything. Sports have also taught me the ability to be calm and composed during moments of stress. This is probably due to the position I play in softball, but this skill has come in handy many times in my life.
Who has been your inspiration?
I have always been the youngest player on my travel softball team for years, and because of this I have always looked up to my teammates. They became the big sisters that I never had! I didn’t just look up to them for softball, but also for life. They are all strong, and confident women, and I am so lucky to call them my friends. I thank all of them for being a part of what makes me the softball player and person I am today.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
As any Grammy or Oscar speech would go I want to thank my parents and coaches for pushing me even when I thought I couldn’t go anywhere else. Thanks for believing in me when I was unathletic and uncoordinated. You pushed me to become a better player, but also a better person.
When quarantine life is over, what is the thing you are most looking forward to doing?
Hugging my friends. I miss them.
What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?
Freshman year I thought that I was good at math. Lets just say that I’m laughing at that now. I think the biggest difference is that now I am fine with being someone that doesn’t just fall into one category. Freshman year I thought that I either had to be the smart kid, the artist or the athlete. As cliche as it is senior year has shown me that no one really cares about titles, and to just be yourself.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
That I’m a pro at loading the dishwasher. I can fit so many dishes in there. It’s my secret talent. Although my mother does abuse this talent a little too much.
If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?
John Mulaney. That man is hilarious. I think I would just end up walking around all week telling jokes, and I would definitely go on SNL. That would be cool.
Describe your idea of the perfect day
Wake up, get coffee from Nirvana, then go to the beach with friends, when the sun starts to lower I would then head to the SHS softball field for practice. After many rounds of grounders and batting practice my teammates and I drive somewhere to get ice cream. Driving back to the high school where all of our cars are, we would lay on the pavement, just talking about life until the lights turned off and we could see the stars.
What are your post high school plans?
I will be attending Roger Williams University, I’ll be majoring in forensic science. At RWU I will also be continuing my softball career there for another four years. Go Hawks!
Where will you be in 10 years, and what will you be doing?
Hopefully I will be in the city, either New York or Boston, working in a lab helping solve crimes. The dream would be to work for the FBI, so then when my mother asks me about work I’ll get to say, “Can’t tell you, it’s classified.”