CLEVELAND – Few people ever do anything perfectly, but Taylor Nix, a pitcher for the Truett-McConnell Bears softball team pitched a no hitter last month.
For those uninitiated in the game of baseball or softball,in a perfect game is a game a pitcher gets a victory in which no opposing player reaches base. Thus, the pitcher cannot allow any hits, walks, hit batsmen, or any opposing player to reach base safely for any other reason. A perfect game is so infrequent that in major league baseball it has happened only 21 times since 1900, or once about every five or six years.
One of the most memorable events in sports history is the perfect game New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen pitched against a talented Brooklyn Dodger team in the 1956 Baseball World Series. Larsen needed only 97 pitches to retire 27 batters and thus pitched the only no-hitter and only perfect game in World Series history.
Ben Cosgrove, writing for Time Magazine on the 58th anniversary of Larsen’s feat, quoted him as saying, ”They can never break my record. The best they can do is tie it.”
Then Cosgrove added, “Almost 60 years later, baseball is still waiting for someone, anyone, to do just that. In the meantime, the sport and its fans are still celebrating Larsen’s improbable masterpiece.”
Nix, a sophomore at Truett McConnell, pitched her perfect game against Talladega College. In the second game of a doubleheader on March 5, Nix faced 21 batters over seven innings and retired them all without any reaching first base. It was the first time in Truett McConnell softball history a perfect game was thrown.
Head Coach Jenni Shepherd was ecstatic for Nix and added, “She didn’t even realize that she had the perfect game until we told her. She was just focused on doing her job on the mound and threw amazingly well. We are so proud that she was able to make this happen.”
Nix commented, “I went to East Jackson Comprehensive High School. I played Varsity softball all four years in high school, golf one year, and basketball two years. My high school athletic career was like a roller coaster ride. There were times when I felt successful, but also a lot of times when I felt unsuccessful.
“My senior softball season was when I first started to peak; I made second team all region and honorable mention for the all area softball team and was named MVP for my high school softball team. After my senior softball season, I played basketball my senior year and ended up tearing my ACL just a couple games into the season and was told I would never play softball again.”
Nix overcame the odds and decided to attend Truett-McConnell to continue her education. She explained, “I chose Truett because it was close to home, and when I came up here to visit, I loved how small the campus was and how friendly all the students and faculty were to my family and me. During my time at Truett I have been able to build many good relationships with my teammates, coaches, and other faculty.
“I am currently a sophomore at Truett-McConnell. My athletic career at Truett has been such a great experience. They always say that you meet coaches during your life that have a life-changing impact on you. That didn’t happen to me until I came to Truett.
“It all began in the fall of 2014 during my weekly pitching time in between classes. There were hours spent in the gym working on my curveball and during those times, I was pushed harder than I ever thought possible, but through the hard work Coach Rollins had a huge impact on my life.”
It takes a team
Colette Rollins joined the TMC softball coaching staff after graduating from Valdosta State University, where she played for the Blazers and acted as an assistant coach during the 2014 season. She had a stellar softball career at Valdosta State and the Blazers won the Gulf South Conference Championship each of the four seasons she was there. During her senior year they won the South Regional championship and were the runners-up at the Division II National Tournament.
Nix added, “There were times when I felt so much frustration that I wanted to give up, but Coach Rollins pushed me and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. She’s helped me grow so much as an athlete and as a person over the past year-and-a-half. I wouldn’t have been able to throw my perfect game without the help of my coaches and teammates. My teammates played amazing defense behind me and believed in me from the very first pitch.
“I didn’t even know that I had thrown a perfect game until I struck the very last batter of the game out and everyone went crazy. It was a very humbling moment, but such accomplishments make all the hard work worth it.”
Taylor grew up in Jefferson with her parents, Chris and Missy, and two little brothers Cody (16) and Colton (4). She remarked, “My parents were amazing throughout my childhood and even now they continue to be there for me; and I know they love me unconditionally in all situations.
“I came to know the Lord when I was eight-years-old. My dad was a deacon in our church, so I had an awesome support system at home to help me with my walk with Christ.
“I have faced some challenges over the past couple of years that have pushed me to become a strong person and ultimately made my faith stronger.”
A bright light
Bray Reynolds, vice president for academic affairs at Truett-McConnell, stated, “Taylor was removed her freshman year for disciplinary reasons. She wept in my office and said she wanted to come back. Student services put her into a discipleship/mentor relationship with Hayle Swinson. As a result of that mentoring she was allowed back at Truett.”
Reflecting on that experience, Taylor explained, “I fully gave my life to God after my freshman year at Truett-McConnell. The struggles and adversity that I faced were extremely hard for me at the time, but I am so thankful for it now, because it has made me a much more humble person.”
Reynolds added, “Taylor has become a bright light for the Gospel of Jesus. I have literally watched the miraculous power of the Gospel change that young lady into a vessel of honor for God. Old things are passed away; all things have become new. Her life is an example of a spiritual metamorphosis.”
The pitcher of TMC’s perfect game concluded, “Truett is a great place to be. It helped change my life and I am thankful for the people I have met here.”
Since Nix’s perfect game she has continued to play exceedingly well.
Her recent heroics on the diamond have earned her Appalachian Athletic Conference Softball Pitcher of the Week during the first week in April. She went 2-0 for the week and didn’t allow a single earned run. In her last outing, a game against Wesleyan College, Nix had seven strikeouts, allowing one hit and three walks in a 6-0 win.
Taylor Nix is a young lady who has it all together on the softball field and in the game of life itself.