Freshman Taylor McQuillin finding her groove
When a highly touted softball prospect from Mission Viejo, California, decommitted from Oklahoma State during her freshman year, the softball community took notice and began reaching out to recruit her.
Taylor McQuillin was already on path to one of the most decorated softball careers in California state history. As a highly touted recruit, McQuillin eventually lead Mission Viejo High School to a 55-2 record during her junior and senior seasons.
National awards ensued.
McQuillin committed to Arizona after visiting numerous schools in the Pac-12 Conference.
Taylor committed to the UA because of her affection for the college-town atmosphere of Tucson, the rich history of the UA softball program and because of head coach Mike Candrea.
“Everyone knows him, everyone has the desire to play for him,” McQuillin said. “I would always watch the [Women’s College] World Series on TV and Arizona would always be in it and I would always tell my mom that’s where I want to go to school.”
Throughout her time in high school, McQuillin was not sure if she was capable of playing at a prestigious program like the UA. When she did reach out to Candrea, he believed otherwise.
“He gave me the mentality that I can come to school here, I can perform here, I can be on his team and I can work towards winning a National Championship with the team we have now,” McQuillin said.
Candrea was excited to land the highly touted recruit. He said McQuillin is a big part of the future for the Wildcats.
“Early in the recruiting process, I think she committed early and then she kept getting better and better,” Candrea said. “When we had an opportunity to get her at Arizona, I was excited to get someone of her quality, someone who is left handed and someone who has competed for national championships quite regularly.”
Even with all of the attention McQuillin was receiving from schools around the country, one aspect of her life remained unknown.
McQuillin was diagnosed with Duane’s syndrome at birth and she is fully blind in her left eye.
“It didn’t become well known until the end of my junior year, maybe the beginning of my senior year,” McQuillin said. “I’ve never known what it is like to see with two eyes. I think that’s helped a lot because I never really cared.”
McQuillin said she does not feel the syndrome as a disability.
So far, she has done well adjusting to playing at her dream school.
Through eight appearances, including seven starts, McQuillin holds a 5-2 record and a 3.17 ERA.
For a team with aspirations of going back to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, McQuillin could provide another top-quality arm to turn Arizona’s Women’s College World Series dream into a reality.
“I want to be as successful as I can be for my team,” McQuillin said. “My expectations for myself are high, but I think they’re high because I want to perform for my team.”
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