Andrew Taylor earns All-America honors, braces for start against Notre Dame

Once a little-known recruit, Andrew Taylor is now an All-American. 

One day after the redshirt freshman was named the Mid-American Conference's Pitcher of the Year, Taylor was named a second team All-American by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Thursday. 

Taylor is the first Chippewa All-American since Zavier Warren, who was named third team All-American in 2019. The last second-teamer was third baseman Jim Geldhof in 2004. 

Taylor was named first team All-MAC in addition to his individual honors. He finished his first full season with an 11-3 record. The Caledonia native etched his name in the single-season record book, ranking second in strikeouts (120) and third in wins (11) and earned run average (1.21). 

"It doesn't feel real," Taylor said. "It feels like all the hard work that we put in this year is really paying off. I'm just getting the one percent better approach each week."

Once upon a time, Taylor was not on many team's radars. Heading into his senior year at Caledonia High School, he was pitching for the Grand Rapids Diamonds. Taylor's coach, Billy Peterson, put in a good word with CMU coach Jordan Bischel regarding the lanky right-hander. 

Taylor impressed Bischel enough at a tournament in Mount Pleasant as well as a prospect camp to earn a roster spot. Since then, he's taken the country by storm. 

"We just saw a couple of those flashes and we knew at that point that he was a guy we had to get on board," Bischel said. "Thankfully, we did get him here and the rest is becoming history."

Taylor earned a one-hit, eight inning shutout against Toledo in his final regular season appearance. The shutout was his second in a row and of the season. Taylor led the conference in ERA and wins while finishing second in strikeouts to Ball State's Chayce McDermott.

The Chippewas will play in the South Bend Regional of the NCAA Tournament and face Notre Dame in the first round. Taylor will start the tournament opener in arguably the biggest appearance of his career. 

"You're gonna see someone that throws a lot of strikes," senior first baseman Zach Heeke said of Taylor. "Someone that competes. Someone that's gonna let the defense work a little bit and someone that's gonna strike out a lot of people. He's just really good. He's really tall on that mound, really aggressive. It's fun to watch." 

The Chippewas are taking on the Fighting Irish for the second time this season, the first of which was a 8-4 loss in South Bend on April 13. With hitters such as Niko Kavadas, who has hit 16 home runs, and Carter Putz, who earned four hits in the first matchup, Taylor will have his work cut out for him. 

However, his approach will not change. 

"I just try to approach every day the same, no matter who we're playing," Taylor said. "No matter if we're playing the best team in the nation or the worst team in the nation, I just approach each week, each day, (with) the same mentality, that underdog mentality, going in."

Junior right-hander Jordan Patty will start on Saturday. Sophomore left-hander Garrett Navarra may pitch out of the bullpen during the regional.