Wilde steps up to college plate at Taylor | PostIndependent.com

Wilde steps up to college plate at Taylor

The outfield of Glenwood Springs High School’s baseball diamond used to be his domain. He used to defend the Demon plate by getting a hit over half the time he stepped up to it.

As a senior in 2005, Taylor Wilde was a star for the Demons. He connected for 33 hits, knocked in 17 RBI and had a .532 batting average to lead his team.

He helped guide Glenwood to a 9-9 season that included a playoff appearance.

Now, his role is different.

He plays in Upland, Ind., a town the size of New Castle, at Taylor University, a small university with 2,000 students.

As a freshman on the Trojan baseball team, Wilde is now longer the star. Instead, he is a rookie, fighting for playing time as he tries to find a spot in the outfield. He might not be a starter anymore, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already made his mark.

“Taylor has been doing very well in our pre-season workouts. He is a very hard worker and has committed himself to getting stronger and developing his body,” said Kyle Gould, Taylor’s head coach. “I think that Taylor can contribute as a defensive player in the outfield and as he continues to get stronger his role will expand.”

With two seniors and junior transfer slated to start in the Taylor’s outfield, Wilde will be a backup, but he also might see some time in the infield.

“Mostly this year I’ll probably play left field and some second base,” Wilde said. “Coach said that mostly I will come in as a late-inning guy to play defense when we are ahead. That will be my main role.”

Gould believes that will be a good role for Wilde and also thinks he will improve.

“Taylor’s strengths right now are his defensive abilities and his passion for the game,” Gould said. “Taylor is always looking for ways to get extra work in to become a better player.”

Wilde’s hard work paid off when he got his first chance to play at the collegiate level in two exhibition games this fall. The two games were played against Indiana Westland, Taylor’s rival, and Mount Vernon. The Trojan’s beat their rival 10-9, and tied Mount Vernon 2-2. Wilde started against Mount Vernon and played a few innings against Indiana Westland in his first games in a Taylor jersey.

“I was a little nervous. It was quite a bit different (from playing in high school),” Wilde said. “Everybody’s more into it. The intensity level is higher and everything is faster.”

Wilde is one of seven newcomers on the Trojan’s roster this year, a year after the team finished with 23 wins. Even though Wilde is a rookie, he said he enjoys the team.

“They’re really cool. They are a great group of guys and they are fun to hang out with,” he said.

In the offseason, the Trojans lift weights and practice at Taylor’s field house that contains indoor batting cages and a regulation-size diamond. Wilde said that the team has been working on the little things to prepare for the spring.

“We’ve been working on a lot of small ball ” bunting, hit and runs and stuff like that,” Wilde said.

The Trojans will take the field Feb. 17 when Taylor travels to Chattanooga, Tenn., to kick off its season against Tennessee Temple. It will be the first of 55 games, most of which are double headers, in the spring season.

The beginning of this season will be the start of Wilde’s four-year journey at Taylor.

“I want to become a better baseball player and just have lots of fun,” Wilde said.

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