Berry’s Thomas signs with SW Tennessee
Wed. June 06, 2012 at 7:48 p.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Taylor Thomas, who pitched for her father, Darrell, at Berry, will play at Southwest Tennessee COmmunity College in Memphis next season. (Photo by Submitted)
Taylor Thomas will play softball next season for a new team and a new coach in a new location, but she expects to continue as a workhorse pitcher and she won’t forget her family.
Thomas, a graduate of Berry High School, has signed with Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis.
"It was a pretty big deal," Thomas said. "I always wanted to play college softball. I’m excited, but there are some mixed emotions about leaving home."
Thomas had a brief stint with the Berry varsity when she was in the eighth grade. In her last four seasons, her father, Darrell Thomas, was the head coach for the Lady Wildcats.
"I think he was rougher on me than anybody else, but at the end of the day we were just as close," she said. "When we would play in tournaments, we would just sit there between games and talk about what we needed to do"
She said it was different in the last game, an area tournament contest against South Lamar.
"It was rough," she said. "I knew I’d never play for my daddy again. We just took it and let out all the emotion. Then we got back on the bus and started talking about what we were going to do next year. He supported me through everything, more than anybody else ever had."
Darrell Thomas said he plans on making the three-hour drive to Memphis to see his daughter.
"The last four years at Berry have been great, knowing that you could send somebody out there who wants the ball, somebody strong that you could depend on," he said. "It makes me proud to know that she’s going on to the next level."
Darrell Thomas estimated that his daughter won 78 games during her career. In her senior season, she posted a 26-13 record with six shutouts, two no-hitters and a 1.49 ERA. She struck out 395 batters in 253 innings, an average of 10.9 strikeouts per seven innings.
Darrell Thomas recalled that in a tournament at Lynn she pitched five games in one day, striking out 52 batters in 28 innings.
"She was just as strong in that fifth game as she was in the first part of the day," he said. "The competitor in her is the amazing part. No matter what the circumstances are, it’s like she’s saying, ‘Here’s my best. You can try to hit it, but I want the ball.’"
Taylor Thomas, a right-hander, said she has confidence in throwing a fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, screwball and changeup.
"I just kind of do it naturally," she said. "I would pitch five or six games in a tournament or throw 300 or 400 pitches in a day, and it doesn’t bother me at all."
She said she also received encouragement from her grandfather, Jim Raines, the father of Danny Raines, Berry’s head football coach.
"(Jim Raines) motivated me to keep working at it," Taylor Thomas said. "He loved watching me, and that was really important in my life."
Keith Gentry is the head coach at Southwest Tennessee.
"He came and watched me play in a tournament," said Taylor Thomas, who is interested in a career in nursing. "It just seemed like he was more down to earth. I could talk to him as long as I wanted to. He reminded me of my daddy."
Reach Andrew Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0223.