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BASEBALL

Doyle signs letter of intent to play baseball

ConVal senior will pitch for Division II Delta State University in 2014 season

  • ConVal senior Taylor Doyle signs his national letter of intent to play baseball for Delta State University on Nov. 27, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
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It all started with a tweet.

ConVal senior Taylor Doyle was heading for a showcase in Jupiter, Fla. and his mom, Julie, wanted as much exposure as possible for the hard-throwing right-hander.

So she sent got on her Twitter account and contacted dozens of baseball programs from around the country with Doyle’s baseball profile.

And one program really liked what they saw. Delta State University, a program that was coming off a loss in the NCAA Division II National Championship Game, wanted to take a closer look at Doyle.

But the Statesmen coaches would not be in Florida that weekend, so they wanted Doyle to make the trip to Mississippi.

“I guess they liked what they saw so they invited me down,” said Doyle. “They wanted me to go down and pitch for them.”

Doyle went to Cleveland, Miss., for a workout and more specifically to throw for the Statesmen’s coaching staff.

He was one of the last ones to take the mound of the 25 pitchers in attendance and left that day as the top-ranked hurler.

“The last six months really did something for him,” said ConVal baseball coach Mike Marschok. “He’s showing that he wants it and he’s putting in the time.”

That workout happened on Nov. 3. Three days later, Doyle had a scholarship offer, combining athletics and academics, that would cover about half the cost of his tuition. On Tuesday, surrounded by family, friends and coaches, Doyle signed his national letter of intent to play for Delta State in the 2014 season.

“I’ve worked so hard to play college baseball,” said Doyle. “It’s a little surreal because of how quick it happened.”

While a lot of high school athletes begin the recruiting process during their junior years, Doyle really didn’t get started until late this summer. After playing legion ball and making the decision not to play for the ConVal football team in the fall, Doyle put all his efforts into baseball.

“It was really difficult because I was most likely going to be the starting quarterback,” said Doyle. “If I could have managed both I would have loved to, but it worked out in the end.”

He attended his first showcase in August and really started to gain some attention. Prior to his visit to Delta State, Doyle had a scholarship offer from Southern New Hampshire University and interest from a few other Northeast schools.

Doyle never gave a whole lot of thought to playing down South. Then in the middle of October, Doyle went to a tournament in Arizona with his fall travel team, the Bayside Yankees based out of Queens, NY.

It was a hot day, around 95 degrees, but Doyle topped out at 89 miles per hours, a full five miles per hour faster than he threw last year during his junior season at ConVal.

He realized then he liked the heat and Mississippi was a good place to find it in the spring and summer months.

“They’re rebuilding their pitching staff for next year, so I have a good chance to start freshman year,” said Doyle. “I’d like to at least get a lot of pitching time in.”

Standing at six feet, four inches and still growing, Doyle has the kind of frame every coach would love to have out of a pitcher.

He is only around 185 pounds, so there is plenty of room for him to bulk up. And that is what Delta State is counting on. They said he projects well for the future. The plan is to put some muscle on his tall, thin frame and watch the zip on his fastball rise.

“He really has the body for what he’s trying to do,” said Marschok. “He’s tall, lanky and is only going to get stronger.”

But Doyle isn’t just another tall pitcher who can just throw a fastball. He has an above average slider, as well as a curve and change-up that Doyle will admit both need some work. But both pitches are getting better.

“I can come after hitters in a lot of different ways,” said Doyle.

He is not the first one in his family to play high-level baseball. His uncle Steve Shepard, who pitched at Franklin Pierce University, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 13th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

“I’m living up to his standards,” Doyle said. “He has helped me out a lot throughout my career.”

It was a tough decision not to play football, but it has worked out better than Doyle could have imagined. He always wanted to play college baseball and now he has the chance.

“It’s exciting for Taylor, ConVal High School and ConVal baseball,” said Marschok. “It’s not everyday that somebody signs a national letter of intent.”

And if everything goes to plan, Doyle expects his baseball career to go even further than the college ranks when his name is hopefully called one day in the MLB Draft.

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