With a broken wrist still healing, Severna Park pitcher Harrison Taylor figured last month that he'd go the entire baseball season without hitting. Then, on a whim, he decided to try batting practice two weeks ago.
During a Severna Park practice, a rusty Taylor stepped up to the plate and smashed one line drive after another. Teammates practicing around him dropped their gloves and watched the display. Not usually a power hitter, he nailed balls deep into left and right field.
"I just stepped right into a groove," Taylor said. "I never saw that coming, but it just happened. I started hitting, and I got really hot."
Thanks partly to that impromptu hitting session, Taylor played a key role -- on the mound and at the plate -- in a 9-0 win over Wilde Lake in the Maryland 3A state title game at Joe Cannon Stadium on Saturday. Taylor had three hits and two RBI. He also pitched a complete-game shutout to help Severna Park (21-4) win its second state title in three seasons.
In a game during which every Falcons starter had at least one hit, Taylor was the offensive standout. He doubled twice and scored one run. He started Severna Park rallies in the first and third innings.
"I knew he would do something big at the plate," Severna Park Coach Jim McCandless said. "I just had this feeling. I knew he was capable of doing something like that."
He had more confidence in Taylor than Taylor did. The senior had long assumed that hitting heroics were an impossibility. After he broke his wrist during a preseason speed camp, he decided he would be able to pitch but not hit during the 2005 season. So while he compiled a 7-1 pitching record with a 1.51 ERA, he never batted until the last week of the regular season.
In Severna Park's final stats, though, Taylor will stand out as the leading hitter. He finished the season hitting .700 -- or seven for 10.
"He came up huge for us," Severna Park pitcher Chris Crum said. "It's too bad he didn't hit all year, because right when he started hitting, he was on fire."
Said Taylor: "Sometimes it takes a whole season to get going at the plate, so I guess I'm lucky. It only took me a week."