There aren’t too many high school student-athletes who have the ability to have an immediate effect on an NCAA Division I softball program, usually because they aren’t quite ready for the mental and physical demands of a top level collegiate program.
However, that has not been the case with former Beecher Bobcat Taylor Johnson, a junior at the University of Wisconsin.
The Human Development in Family Studies major has started in 131 of 132 possible games since joining the squad, playing primarily at third base and catcher.
“I think being at Wisconsin over these past few years has kind of shown that you could come in and think, especially being from Beecher, you can be the small little fish, but they can grow you and mold you into not only the student-athlete you want to become but the person outside of softball,” Johnson said. “They have helped me in athletics and academics to grow to new heights, and it just helps me a lot to think I picked the right college.”
Last season as a sophomore, Johnson earned herself first-team All-Big Ten and Great Lakes All-Region honors after recording 61 hits, 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. She helped lead her team to an impressive 43-14 overall record last year, which included upsetting No. 1-ranked Oklahoma on May 19, 2019 — her favorite college memory.
“Going out and beating No. 1-ranked Oklahoma last year while being the underdog has been my greatest memory of my career to date,” Johnson said. “I think just being the underdog, especially when it comes to going to Wisconsin, I’ve always loved the underdog aspect.”
This season, Johnson helped lead to Badgers to a 14-10 record before the season was cut short. Although she finished the shortened season hitting just .195, she was just getting started, as she was able to increase her average during each of the last nine games of the 2020 season.
Trying to keep the momentum she built toward the tail end of this season, Johnson has been staying active at home to stay in shape.
“I’ve been kind of just working out and doing catching drills when it’s not raining,” Johnson said. “Other than that my team has been having Zoom call meetings to stay together, and we’ve talked about what we want our culture to be next year.”
Similar to many other student-athletes, Johnson misses her teammates more than anything, and she can’t wait to get back out on the field with her teammates.
“I definitely miss being with my teammates and my friends; it’s just kind of hard especially because we are from all different parts of the country,” Johnson said. “So, it’s definitely either text messages or calls when I communicate with them.”