SIDELL — It’s been a special four years for Salt Fork baseball senior Cole Taylor and his head coach, Gary Hansgen.
Correction: Make that eight years.
Like he has so many of his players the past three decades, Hansgen coached Taylor at Jamaica Junior High School for four years before he even put on the Storm uniform. Hansgen said that Taylor has been a special part of the program.
“He’s one of the hardest workers that we’ve had,” said Hansgen. “I can’t tell you how many hours he’s spent outside of practice hitting in a tunnel. He’ll go out and throw on his own. He has a batting tunnel at home and even after practice he would head there to keep hitting.”
It’s because of the long hours spent and guidance from Hansgen and other coaches that helped earn Taylor the title of Commercial-News All-Area Baseball Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Taylor is the first player to repeat as Baseball Player of the Year since Armstrong-Potomac’s Ryan Bird did it from 2001-2003.
Hansgen remembers seeing Taylor play at a young age and what kind of player he was even then.
“He’s always had a lot of things that most kids don’t have. I remember being at Covington to watch him play a game when he was in fifth grade – Cole was playing shortstop. There was a double-play ball hit to the second baseman and Cole had the awareness to know as he was catching the ball at second to drag his foot across the bag, pivot, and throw the guy out at home. Most kids at that age just think to throw the ball to first for the normal double-play but he had the awareness that most kids don’t.”