YATESVILLE — When Taylor Baloga was 9 years old, she starting pitching. After just a few years, she already threw harder than all of her teammates and opponents. Fast-forward several years later and all the hard work and dedication has paid off for the Pittston Area senior.
Taylor accepted a softball scholarship to Georgian Court University and signed her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday at the Cefalo Center in front of family and friends. Georgian Court University is part of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) and is located in Lakewood, New Jersey. The school competes in the NCAA Division 2.
“It’s a little more weight off my shoulders,” Taylor said. “They offered me a scholarship and they had the major I was looking for. They have a new coach and a new program. I’ve been through that before.”
Taylor verbally committed to Georgian Court last November.
In 2009, when Taylor, the daughter of Susan and John Baloga, was 11, her family purchased the former St. Joseph’s Church on Main Street in Port Griffith, which is now Baloga Funeral Home, Inc. The basement of the church, being much longer than 43 feet, eventually served as a pitching paradise for Taylor. She said she has spent countless hours in that basement working on hitting and pitching.
It’s most important during the offseason, she said.
“It’s the same length as the upstairs, so we were able to get two pitching mounds in there,” Taylor said. “In the winter, the offseason I spent a lot of time down there.”
Recently, the Patriot had one of her best outings of her high school career.
Against Wyoming Valley West on Tuesday, April 12, the senior took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning of a 6-1 win. At one point, she retired 15 straight Spartan batters. She also drove in three runs with a pair of triples.
Taylor has been a regular starter for the Patriots since her freshman season. Up until Tuesday, the Patriots had won just 13 of 45 conference games in her career. However, things have started to change over the past two years. Pittston Area is currently 3-0 in the WVC slate after winning just five games last season.
Much of the success is thanks to Taylor’s pitching and senior leadership.
“It’s exciting to finally get to this point and start out so well as seniors,” she said. “There’s a lot of high energy from everyone and we’re all excited.”
Last season, as a junior, Taylor was named First Team All-Conference by the Wyoming Valley Conference Coaches after posting a 2.77 ERA in 15 starts. She was also named honorable mention all-state. As a sophomore, she led the WVC in triples and pitching strikeouts, and was named Pittston Area’s captain.
Taylor was Pittston Area’s starting pitcher as a freshman and led the team in hits and was named the team’s MVP. She was a WVC All-Star honorable mention and led the conference in triples. Over the past several years, she’s played for the Rollin Thunder Gold 18U softball team.
In 2015, Georgian Court finished 14-32 overall. So far this season, the team is 6-28.
“I’m ready to get there and help coach (Nicole) Degenhardt as much as I can,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting better every day and see what I can do to contribute to the team.”
Taylor will study exercise science this fall.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick