Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senior first baseman bounces back for Riverview Sharks softball

Riverview senior Taylor McCoy (23) gets the out at first base against Bloomingdale in the second inning at Riverview High School on Tuesday.


Riverview senior Taylor McCoy (23) gets the out at first base against Bloomingdale in the second inning at Riverview High School on Tuesday.

RIVERVIEW — Taylor McCoy's softball career at Riverview has seen plenty of ups and downs.

McCoy burst onto the scene as a freshman, pitching the Sharks into the region finals. But despite a 13-5 record and a sparkling 1.42 ERA, McCoy suddenly found herself struggling with a pitcher's best friend.

"I lost my confidence," she said. "I didn't handle the pressure very well from all the expectations. It was a really hard time."

She scuffled on the mound as a sophomore before settling in at first base as a junior. McCoy was tearing the cover off the ball last season before what she called "personal issues" led to a conflict with veteran Riverview coach Angela Slater.

In the middle of her junior season, McCoy left the team.

"Because of some personal things I had a fallout with Coach Slater and I quit in the middle of the season," McCoy said.

After watching the Sharks fail to make the playoffs, McCoy reached out to Slater in hopes of returning for her senior season.

"(Leaving the team) kind of bit me in the butt," McCoy said. "I went to see her and we talked about a lot of things. I'm just really thankful she gave me the opportunity."

McCoy said the rift strengthened their relationship.

"I don't know if any other coach around here would have had me back," McCoy said. "I think our fallout made the bond between us tighter."

And Sharks' fans are glad McCoy is back. The senior first baseman, who signed with Hampton before the season, is off to a sizzling start for the Sharks. She leads Riverview in all major offensive categories, including hitting over .500 average and two home runs.

"She's a big kid with tremendous plate coverage," Slater said. "She's improved every year at the plate and does a great job going with the pitch no matter where it is."

McCoy is one of four seniors on a young Sharks team. Eight of Riverview's 14 players are underclassmen.

"I've enjoyed coaching this young group and we've struggled a bit, but I think that's a good thing," Slater said. "We're nowhere near where we need to be, but we have a chance to be pretty good."

And a lot of that optimism starts inside the circle. Junior Emily Gaitan, who transferred before last season from Academy of the Holy Names, has already committed to the University of Mississippi.

"(Gaitan) has all the tools and all the pitches," Slater said. "She's pitched well but I think you're going to see her get better because she's capable of it."

Slater said picking a college early, especially a Southeastern Conference school like Ole Miss, brings about a number of new challenges.

"It's a huge relief, in some ways, for kids because they're getting the decisionmaking out of the way now," she said. "But it also means you're a measuring stick for every hitter you face. The expectation level is raised."

As midseason approaches, Slater is looking forward to facing the Sharks' district slate for the second time. The Sharks' lone district loss came against Plant City, a team Slater said "just had a little more experience."

"We have a legitimate shot in this district but I don't want the team to think they can finish second because then they'll feel like a shoe in," she said. "I want them to keep working to get better each day, working harder each day, and see where that takes us."

And even though so much has happened since, McCoy said she sees a lot of similarities between this season and four years ago.

"Everyone gets along on this team, and it's like 2009 for the second time," she said. "There's just a great vibe about it."

Brandon Wright can be reached at

Senior first baseman bounces back for Riverview Sharks softball 03/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant in 10-inning victory

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh and working eight strong innings overall in a 4-2 10-inning victory over the Pirates.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better as the season goes on, which could make the Rays' decision whether to trade the free-agent-to-be tougher and tougher. He was efficient and effective, rolling through six no-hit innings and eight total.

  3. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Rays sign first-round pick Brendan McKay to record bonus

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Determining whether top draft pick Brendan McKay will be more productive as a pitcher or a hitter or can handle the demands of doing both professionally will be a long endeavor that could take years.

    Louisville pitcher Brendan McKay  connects for a grand slam home run during the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament against Notre Dame in May in Louisville, Ky. [Timothy D. Easley/ via AP]