BY WILL WILLEMS – SPORTS EDITOR
For her first three years at Western Boone, Taylor Vanderpool has been a mainstay in the middle infield for the Western Boone softball team.
And now, as she prepares for her final season at Western Boone in the spring, she officially knows where she will be headed after graduation. Vanderpool signed her national letter of intent on Thursday afternoon to play softball at Illinois State University in a signing ceremony at the school.
“It feels amazing,” Vanderpool said. “Just knowing that I have somewhere to go after high school and continue to play the sport I love, it is a big relief knowing that all the hard work I have put in and all the sacrifices my parents have made paid off.”
Vanderpool ultimately chose Illinois State over Southern Illinois and SIU-Edwardsville.
She said that Illinois State had everything she was looking for in a future school.
“First off, they were a very competitive team and they have been a very successful program the last couple of years,” Vanderpool said. “Academics were important to me, and I want to study actuarial science and they are one of the best schools in the nation for that. That was a big factor. I really enjoy the coaches and team and when I have been on campus, the atmosphere felt right. Plus, it is only a couple of hours from home, which is nice.”
Vanderpool batted a team best .442 with a team high 41 runs scored for the Stars last year. She added 23 RBIs and 14 doubles and helped the Stars to the sectional and regional titles.
She is a multi-time all-conference selection. She has played at shortstop and second base for the Stars in her career.
“The coaching told me that they really like my work ethic and how versatile I am as a player,” Vanderpool said. “I can play multiple positions and I am a power gap hitter and they think I can make a big impact on the team.”
Vanderpool said she believes she will have a chance to contribute right away to the Redbirds.
She added there are things she is working on in order to make sure she is in the best position to do that.
“I feel like if I keep up my hard work and keep a good, positive attitude, that I have a really good chance,” Vanderpool said. “I have really worked on being more consistent with my hitting. It has really come along the past couple of years, but I want to get that more consistent. Then I want to work on the mental part of the game, because that will be big in college.”
Vanderpool set the school RBI record with 35 as a sophomore, then set the runs scored (41) and doubles (14) records as a junior.
She said heading into her senior year, she has goals for what she wants to accomplish.
“Obviously, I want to keep up my stats hitting, that is the pretty work, but I want to work on becoming a better leader for the team,” Vanderpool said. “There are only going to be two seniors on the team, so I want to have a positive impact on the team, knowing the girls look up to me, so that it carries on to the future.”
Vanderpool is currently on the basketball team and then will have one last season of softball this spring.
She said she will remember the friends she made from playing sports at Western Boone.
“I am going to remember my teammates,” Vanderpool said. “The coaches too, but the team chemistry we have had was amazing and I am going to miss playing with them.”
WESTERN BOONE’S TAYLOR VANDERPOOL poses with her family on Thursday afternoon at her signing ceremony. Vanderpool will be attending Illinois State to play softball.