Highly decorated Mizzou pitcher becomes latest professional fastpitch player
2010: Led the Big 12 and set a new single season Missouri record with her .452 batting average, which was the ninth-highest in the country. Averaged 0.79 stolen bases per game, the fifth-best in the NCAA. Scored 1.05 runs per game, 14th most in the country. Recorded the third-most triples (eight) in the NCAA. Tied own single-season record with 64 runs scored. Her 85 hits were the second-highest most in a season at Missouri, three shy of the record she set back in 2008. Posted the seventh-best slugging percentage in a season (.718), while her eight triples are tied for the eighth-highest in a season at Mizzou. Stole 48 bases, second most in a season and nine shy of her record of 57. Went 2-for-4 with a grand slam, two runs scored, four RBI and a double against Louisiana-Lafayette at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Scored on an inside-the-park home run against Bradley on March 14. Broke the school record for most stolen bases in a career against SLU on March 31, breaking Julie Link's 21-year-old record of 110. Had a perfect 3-for-3 day with two runs, three RBI and a homer against SIUE on April 13. Ripped her second triple of the year against SIU on April 14. Had three run home runs against Missouri S&T on April 21 and Texas A&M on April 24, giving her a new personal best for home runs in a season. In the doubleheader with Iowa State, Taylor went 6-for-9 with three runs, two home runs and nine RBI. Her two home runs in the first game against Iowa State made her the only Tiger in 2010 to hit two long balls in the same game. She tripled twice against Baylor, marking the first time in her collegiate career that Taylor picked up two three-baggers in the same game. Had an 18-game hitting streak from April 11 to May 5 where she went 34-64 (.531) with 25 runs, 20 RBI, a double, four triples, five home runs and stole 16 bases in 18 attempts. Went a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with three run, four RBI, a triple and a Big 12 Championship game record three stolen bases in Mizzou's upset win over No. 1 seed Texas in the Big 12 semifinals. Doubled, picked up two hits and scored the winning run against Creighton at the NCAA Columbia Regional. Picked up a pair of hits, including a solo home run, against Hawaii at the Women's College World Series. Went 3-for-3 against Florida at the WCWS with a stolen base. Honors: Women's College World Series All-Tournament Team, Third Team All-American, First Team All-Midwest Region, All-Big 12 Tournament Team, First Team All-Big 12, USA Softball College Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List, USA Softball College Player of the Year Top 25.
2009: Notching a squad best .404 batting average in 51 starts and 52 appearances, Rhea Taylor's mark stood third best in the Big 12 Conference and 47th in the nation. In Big 12 games alone, Taylor hit .354. Missouri's starting centerfielder, Taylor led the conference in stolen bases (36), good enough for 10th best in the country, and was second in hits (72), triples (three) and runs scored (54). Additionally, her 1.04 runs per game stood 15th best in the nation. Over the course of the year, Taylor managed a squad best 21 multi-hit games and recorded the longest Tiger hitting streak, 15 games, from April 19-May 24. During that span, Taylor recorded a .434 batting average that was aided by 23 hits, including two doubles, two triples and one home run. Taylor opened her sophomore season as Big 12 Player of the Week after going 6-for-11 at the plate and contributing seven of the Tigers 20 runs at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic in Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 14-15. Taylor helped Missouri to a league crown, May 9-10 in Oklahoma City, Okla., going 5-for-9 with a .556 average and .778 slugging percentage at the Big 12 Conference Championships. In NCAA postseason play, Taylor helped Missouri to its second straight NCAA Super Regional appearance, hitting the game winning home run against DePaul at the NCAA Regionals held in Columbia, Mo., May 17. Her sixth inning, two out blast was Missouri's lone run of the game and sent Missouri to Los Angeles for the best-of-three series against No. 1 UCLA. Taylor averaged .357 in NCAA postseason play and scored a squad high six runs for Missouri. Honors: All-Midwest Region First Team, All-Big 12 Tournament Team, All-Big 12 First Team, Big 12 Player of the Week.
2008: The first Missouri softball player in program history to earn Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors, Taylor also earned the distinction of becoming the first Tiger in five years to receive All-America accolades. In her inaugural season with the Tigers, Taylor recorded a .402 batting average that set her atop the Missouri career batting average record book as well as tops among her Big 12 opponents. Her .481 average in Big 12 games also led the league. Taylor hit leadoff in all 64 games and reached base 58 times leading off the game. By the close of her freshman season, Taylor had stolen 57 bases, the second most in the country, setting a new Big 12 record. As a newcomer, Taylor received the adidas Golden Shoe Award presented annually to the nation's top base runner. Taylor led the league not only in stolen bases, but also in hits (88) and runs scored (64). The Tiger outfielder made her collegiate debut Feb. 8 against 2007 Women's College World Series contender Virginia Tech, then ranked 15th in the nation. Facing arguably one of the toughest pitchers in the nation, Taylor went 2-for-3 and stole two bases. In NCAA postseason play, Taylor was 7-for-19, scoring four of Missouri's 15 runs. Taylor hit her first career home run May 4 at Nebraska driving home three Missouri runs. For her work, Taylor was named to the All-Big 12 first team as well as NCAA Midwest Alll-Region team. Taylor received second team All-America honors by the close of the season. Honors: Second Team All-American, All-Midwest Region First Team, All-Big 12 First Team, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, adidas Golden Shoe Award Winner.
Peachtree Ridge: Taylor played four years with the Lions softball team and was coached by Duane Wilson. An outfielder with a powerful swing, Taylor batted leadoff her senior season averaging .352 at the plate. As a senior (2006), Taylor helped her team to the Georgia state softball tournament. Throughout her high school career, Taylor earned four letters and was named Best Offensive Player her junior year (2005) and Best Defensive Player in her sophomore campaign (2004). A three-time all-county honoree (2005, 2006), Taylor received honorable mention honors as a freshman in 2003. Taylor played summer softball in 2006 with the Brownsmill Lady Jackets. As a member of the 18 and under team, Taylor helped her team to a 13th place finish out of 144 teams.
Personal: Rhea Taylor is the daughter of Bobby and Coyita Taylor and has three sisters, Jocelyn, Gabrielle and Kamari and one brother, Fabian.