How 'quietly confident' Andrew Taylor became a dominant pitcher for Chippewas

An in-camera double exposure of Alto freshman Andrew Taylor as he starts against Miami (OH), pitching within himself to go the full game, Saturday, May 1, at Theunissen Stadium.

Whether it was basketball or baseball, Andrew Taylor always had something in his hand. 

“He was always throwing the ball,” said Miriam Taylor, Andrew's mom. “I didn’t know if I’d survive the first three years because he was just so busy running around. Throwing a ball, catching a ball, playing basketball. Anything involving a ball, he wanted to do.” 

A year younger than a majority of his classmates, Andrew quietly rose through the ranks. Though his six-foot-five frame is hard to miss, growing up in Caledonia with limited exposure narrowed the attention he could receive. 

“He knew he wanted to play college ball, but he’s not like the kid to go build his brand,” Miriam said. “We did some prospect camps and things, but that was not his favorite thing.” 

From balk to best in class

In his first collegiate at-bat, Andrew inherited a runner on second that ultimately moved to third when he balked. 

“I was too nervous, I was too tense,” Andrew said. “I just wanted to get to the plate.” 

Taylor finished his first career outing, a 10-8 loss to UNLV, with three hits and one run allowed across 3 ⅓ innings. He finished 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA across five appearances, two starts, during his first season.

The taste of college ball showed Taylor how successful he could be. When the pandemic hit, Taylor did whatever he could to stay in shape. 

Stuck at home, a lot of his workouts involved throwing with his brother. Once the Chippewas realized how serious the pandemic was going to be, Bischel sent out a text telling everyone to take a break. 

Taylor unconventionally hit the weights. With no weight rooms open and little to work with at home, his strength training involved squats and leg work while wearing a backpack filled with books. 

“Just kind of taking every resource possible at home to keep the muscle on and to put on some weight and get bigger,” Andrew said. “Because I was very thin and very lean coming in.” 

His strength training mixed with the development of a new pitch, which Taylor describes as a “cutter slash slider,” kept him busy in the offseason and took him to a new level. 

Now he’s one of the premiere pitchers in college baseball. Taylor is the first player in program history to be named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list, as well as one of Baseball America’s Freshman of the Year finalists. 

His 1.33 ERA and 10 wins rank first in the Mid-American Conference and third in the nation while only 13 strikeouts short of the program's single-season record entering his final regular season start.

Despite all this success, Andrew retains a humble demeanor. 

“Obviously he still can’t believe this is all happening,” Miriam said. “But he knows where those gifts come from. And he knows it’s his job to honor God and honor his family and be a good teammate. So that’s what keeps him grounded.” 

Quietly confident

Andrew rarely shows emotion on the mound. As soon as he steps on the rubber, he locks in on his catcher. 

Despite a calm demeanor on the mound, Taylor has been rattled at times.

“I think he is quietly confident,” Miriam said. “But I think that over the course of the year. I don’t ever worry about him. I mean, I shouldn’t say that I’m not nervous sitting in the stands. But he’s gotten more confident where if he gets in a jam you can almost see it in his eyes sort of like, okay, I’m just gonna throw it past you.” 

Andrew has leaned on the expertise of his teammates with seniors Jordan Patty and Cam Brown available to help at every turn. Andrew credits his success to their guidance

“Those guys are amazing,” Andrew said. “I talk with them every day. Not just about pitching, but they’re like brothers to me.”

Taylor and Patty are planning to play together in the Cape Cod League, both suiting up for the Bourne Braves. Should he have a solid summer, Taylor’s career trajectory will continue an upward swing. 

He’s draft-eligible next season, but that rarely crosses his mind. 

“It was never one of those, ‘Oh I’m gonna come here, I’m gonna get drafted. It was one of those, ‘Oh I’m gonna come here, I’m gonna play baseball as long as I can," Andrew said. I’m gonna work my tail off to be good at this level. And then that turned into, ‘Okay, I’m gonna work my tail off to be the best at this level.’ And then now it’s turning into, I’m gonna work my tail off to be one of the best in the country at any level.”