Red Deer fastballer makes history at nationals
Taylor Stymiest has made history at the U18 Women’s Fast Pitch Canadian Championships in Saskatoon earlier this month.
The Red Deer product was named the all-star third baseman for the second year in a row at the highest level of nationals while playing for the River City Hornets out of Edmonton.
Her head coach, Dale Monaghan, is just waiting for confirmation of the feat by Softball Canada, but is confident it is a first, especially for an Alberta player.
“The competition is incredible and for an Albertan to accomplish this is miraculous,” said Monaghan, adding they will be getting back to him in September.
“For a Canadian (Championship) perspective, for an Alberta player to get back-to-back all-stars is unheard of.”
The humble 18-year-old Notre Dame grad hit .615 through four round robin games and .400 in the Hornets’ three playoff games, also hitting two home runs in the process with six runs batted in.
“It means a lot, but I wouldn’t be able to get there without my parents being there with me and all of my coaches and teammates,” said the five-foot-11 right-hander. “It means I’ve actually done something with fastball and I can actually go somewhere with it.”
Being named an all-star once was an accomplishment in and of itself, but twice is extremely rare, especially considering her Red Deer roots. Alberta is far from the hub of the sport, with B.C. and Southern Ontario set up with year-round facilities and training programs.
Stymiest played three seasons with the Hornets, making the trip to Edmonton multiple times a week to play for one of the top programs in the province. This year they also went to tournaments in Florida, B.C. and Oklahoma.
The Hornets finished 11th in Saskatoon and ninth the year before in Prince Edward Island.
Last year they won provincials and entered nationals as the top seed out of Alberta, and this year they finished runner up at provincials and went in with as the No. 2 seed.
Monaghan saw Stymiest develop from a strong all-round player when she arrived in Edmonton as a 15-year-old, but watched as she developed into one of the top players in the country at any position.
Though her calling card may be her bat, she is also terrific defensively.
“She’s got a cannon of an arm to get the ball across the infield for the outs at first and she does not fear hits down the third baseline that in fastball area lot closer than in baseball,” said Monaghan.
Stymiest also played ringette for years, but says she might have played her last game in that sport, as she concentrates on fastball.
She is already receiving interest from colleges and universities from the U.S. but is not sure what the next step is she will be taking. When she does figure out where she is going, she will likely be going after a kinesiology or nursing degree.
“I did get a call from a Minnesota school, I’m not sure if I’m ready to go there yet, it’s a little too far away, but I am thinking of going to college sometime soon, in the next year,” said Stymiest, who has been playing softball and fastball since she was five years old.
Monaghan is certain his third baseman will be able to make the jump to the college level and potentially the national team as well.
The Hornets did not perform as a well as a team as the head coach was hoping for, finishing 3-4 and losing a key game to B.C. that kept them out of their goal of a top seven finish.
But he says Monaghan’s play is something the team can rally around.
“You walk away from nationals not quite getting quite to where you want to be, yet your endeared third baseman is the best in the country ... that’s what memories are made of,” said Monaghan. “You’ll forget in 20 years that we were 11th ... but the entire team will never forget the big kid from Red Deer was the best in the country, not just once, but back-to-back. We’ll never forget that. It’s the legacy from nationals that will last far longer than the position that we ended up in.”