Feb. 12, 2010
Rome, Ga. - Joey Taylor is all about hard work; always has been and always will be.
That's why the Shorter College senior third baseman knows that his team's frustrating start to 2010 is something the Hawks will overcome thanks to a commitment made by every player before the first pitch was ever dealt.
"Work Intensity Never Quit" - the words stand out on the front of a 15-page treatise that Taylor and his fellow seniors presented to the team, the first letter of each word bolded to spell out "WIN" and mark a theme carried on throughout the motivational paper.
A verse from the Bible also jumps off the lead page, Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
"It's always been one of my favorite Bible verses," said Taylor, a Sports Management major from Griffin who was one of the main architects of the positive words. "When times are bad, God will always be with you."
The 5-foot-6 infielder, who has worked his way into the Hawks' lineup after sitting out his freshman year at Shorter, firmly believes that hard work can help anyone overcome obstacles.
"I was raised to work hard," said Taylor. "I did it in high school, and in college you have to work harder. That's one of the examples [the seniors] want to set for the entire team, that hard work pays off and it can be contagious.
"You make a great play in the field or have a big hit, then everyone else wants to work harder to do the same thing."
Taylor's three-year resume is all one needs to see in order to understand the type of work ethic that he possesses.
Despite playing sparingly in his first few seasons, Taylor has developed into a backbone for head coach Matt Larry's charges.
"[Former Shorter baseball player Rusty Hudson] called me and told me Joey was a hard worker," Larry said about how Taylor - Hudson's cousin - came to join the Hawks' program as a non-scholarship player. "He does work hard and he absolutely earned a scholarship after he got here. He's the kind of person who will do anything for you and he's held true to that."
Taylor saw his hard work, patience and persistence pay off last year when he was one of Shorter's most consistent contributors by hitting .325 with 10 RBI and 22 runs scored.
So far in the early stages of this season, Taylor has picked up right where he left off, hitting .333 and committing just one error at third base in Shorter's first four games.
Although Shorter carries an 0-4 record into this weekend's non-conference, home-opening series on Saturday and Sunday against Truett-McConnell College, Taylor believes that the team has been on the verge of living up to its potential.
"We could very easily be 3-1," said Taylor. Shorter lost each of its first three games a narrow, one-run margin. "Even through we are 0-4, I still like this team."
The optimism extends to all phases of the game, from hitting to defense, and although the Hawks are batting just .235 as a unit thus far, Taylor points out that every player is working to get into the groove at the plate.
"Our big thing is that we have to swing at the fastball," Taylor said. "If we do that we'll be successful, and you have to keep learning from at-bat to at-bat and even from pitch to pitch. We have also worked harder on defense, which is a key.
"It's all in place. We just have to execute."
For Taylor, that means relying on himself and his teammates to maintain that "W-I-N" goal set forth at the outset of the season.
He is convinced that the Hawks will begin to click as a team as it heads into what remains as the bulk of the campaign.
"We are more unified than we have been in past years," said Taylor. "We're together. You could put in two or three different lineups and we can still get the job done.
"We have to go out every day and compete against each other and if we do that, we can compete against anyone."