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Taylor Saxton sprints toward first base during a game against the University of Kentucky at the Ohio University Women’s Softball Complex. 

Softball: Taylor Saxton is finding her way as a small but lethal offensive weapon

After some freshman year struggles and a setback from a shoulder surgery, Taylor Saxton is putting it all together this season.

When Ohio second baseman and leadoff hitter Taylor Saxton steps to the plate, the ball rarely leaves the infield due to her slap hitting style. 

But at the same time, the at bat rarely results in anything other than Saxton standing safely on first base. Standing at just 5-foot-3 inches tall, Saxton's ability to get on base, combined with her speed, makes her one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the Mid-American Conference.

However, it wasn't always that way.

In her freshman year,  Saxton hit .258 in 49 games played, including a .216 mark in conference play. 

"Freshman year I was just trying to find my role in the team," Saxton said. "I was trying to figure out where I fit in and things like that." 

Saxton began to find her way in the MAC tournament, hitting .429 in four games en route to a MAC title. It seemed that Saxton would have a strong sophomore year after a solid end to her freshman year.

But, things took a turn for the worse.

Saxton was sidelined all of last season because of shoulder surgery.

"(My) redshirt year, I got to see things from the outside," Saxton said. "Maybe I wasn't doing so much physically, but mentally I think I grew a lot as far as staying positive and being the best role model I can be on and off the field. So, now i'm just kind of tapping into the mental side and things are happening physically."

With the mental side of things coming through, the physical side isn't far behind.

Saxton is now in the top nine in the conference in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and leads the conference in stolen bases with 31.

Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek knows exactly how important her leadoff hitter is to her team.  

"She's huge," Hermanek said. "She's very calm and steady with the two strike approach and that's what you want out of a leadoff batter, for them to see a lot of pitches."

Saxton does have a knack for getting on base, but it is her speed that allows her to do so as easily as she does, and advance around the bases without help from her teammates. 

"I've always been able to rely on my speed to elevate my game," she said. "Every time I get a stolen base, that's like a good batting average for me."

Ohio catcher Madison Claytor said that her and Saxton enjoy challenging each other in practice by seeing if Saxton can steal bases on Claytor.

In her third year at Ohio, and just her second on the field, Saxton is accomplishing what she set out to do from the beginning: Find her role. 

"As a leadoff batter, (my role) is to set the table for the team," she said. "On defense, I'm just trying to keep everybody relaxed and just be the best communicator I can be for (Mackenzie Brunswick) because she's not as experienced at shortstop."

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Saxton is so committed to her role, in fact, that she is willing to sacrifice the chance for some deep ball glory.  

"It would be nice to just put it over the fence and not have to worry about how I'm gonna score or running as fast I possibly can," Saxton said. "I'd like to trot every once in awhile. But, I know that that's not what I do best and when I can just find a way on base by putting it in the dirt, then that's the best thing for the team."


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