Taylor Hoagland may have broken the hearts of A&M fans two years ago when she opted for the burnt orange of the University of Texas at Austin over College Station, but she gave all Texas softball fans something to cheer about in late June when she was named to the U.S. National Softball Team.
Hoagland, a standout at Flower Mound High School, recently joined the national team in Florida to begin practice, and Lady Jaguars softball coach Mark Larriba said he could not be more proud.
“This is great, but we have to keep it in perspective,” Larriba said. “It was not just one coach or one person that helped Taylor get to where she’s at. Taylor is the main one that helped her get to where she’s at, but a lot of coaches helped her get there, too. Not just myself, but a lot of people have contributed to her development.”
Larriba said he knew that Hoagland was capable of playing on the national team, but added that he had never really given it much thought until it happened.
“It is so rare, that you don’t really ever think about it,” Larriba said. “Taylor and I had already talked about it prior, when she was playing in the All-American game and was getting some interest from some pretty good colleges.
“I kind of told her then that the sky was the limit and she needed to put her sights really high, and we never settled for anything but that…when I worked at an A&M camp, I saw her play, and all of us coaches marveled at her athleticism. We really knew then that she was something special.”
Hoagland, who set a couple of records at UT in her freshman season, said it was an amazing feeling to be named to the national team.
“It is a great honor,” Hoagland said. “It’s incredible. It’s going to be a great experience and I am very excited about it.”
Almost as exciting for the FMHS alum was how she found out that she had been selected for the squad.
“I was on a plane back to Dallas when they released the roster for the 2011-2012 team, and as soon as I turned my phone on it was just blasting with phone calls and text messages, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to find out from anyone else except for that email,’” Hoagland said. “When the email popped up I read it, and that was when it really hit me.”
Hoagland set a new Big 12 record this past season with a 26-game hitting streak, as well as a UT single season record with 15 home runs.
Even with the success she has enjoyed at the college level, Hoagland said she still thinks about her playing days at Flower Mound with great fondness, and realizes that it was part of the foundation that got her where she is today.
“I still talk to some of the girls I played with, and we always reminisce about those times,” Hoagland said. “It’s very humbling to have the success that I’ve had. You always have to stay grounded, especially now that you are really in the public eye. You just have to remember where you came from and where you started.”
Hoagland was one of 19 players to be named to the national team and said her goal for herself is actually fairly simple.
“I just want to play,” Hoagland said. “My goal is just to play. I am not trying set anything too, too high, because we have a roster of 19, and those are 19 of the best athletes in the country. So, my goal is to just play.”
Larriba said Hoagland is one of the players that helps give the Flower Mound High School softball program a strong reputation and said he feels certain she will be fine.
“Taylor is really a student of the game, and that is what makes her a good ballplayer,” Larriba said.
“She knows what it takes, and deep down inside she knows she can compete. She just has to believe in herself.”