Taylor Young always wanted to be an All-American at LSU. But LSU’s baseball program didn’t pursue West Monroe’s talented infielder to be part of their program in Baton Rouge. Louisiana Tech welcomed Young with open arms, and it’s been one heck of a ride ever since.
Toward the end of the 2021 season, Collegiate Baseball named Young a Third Team All-American, and that's when Young’s father (Stacy Young) reminded him of a conversation they had back when Young was in high school.
“He said, ‘You remember telling me in high school that you were going to go to Tech and be an All-American because LSU didn’t want you?’ I said, ‘No sir, that’s pretty awesome,’” Young told The Morning Drive with Aaron and Jake Friday morning. “Being an All-American is very surreal and I can’t thank people who helped me along the way enough.”
Young’s future remains somewhat of a mystery. After completing his senior season with the program, because of COVID-19, players are given the option to return to school and play another year should they choose. And right now, that’s where Young is leaning, though he hasn’t made up his mind ahead of the 2021 MLB Draft, which begins July 11.
“We’ll know more after July,” Young said. “The plan is to come back and be a Bulldog of course. I love Ruston, I love this coaching staff and I love the players on the team. But who knows what’s going to happen.”
If the 2021 season was Young’s swan song as a Bulldog, it certainly was a memorable last ride. The Bulldogs won 42 games, hosted their first-ever NCAA regionals, played in the Conference-USA Championship Game in Ruston and were ranked as a Top 20 team for a majority of the season.
Young played his part with All-American honors and First-Team All-Conference USA honors. The former First-Team All-Parish standout broke a school record with 83 runs scored, while ranking in the Top 10 in the conference in walks (46), hits (80), on-base percentage (.454) and total bases (122). He also finished with a .993 fielding percentage at second base.
For a player that was characterized by his tenacity on the gridiron and baseball diamond, it should come as no surprise Young excelled as the team’s leadoff batter. And his teammates that followed shared similar attributes.
“We never stopped playing no matter what the score was,” Young said. “We had a bunch of bulldogs, ironically.”
The highlights of the season for Young came against Louisiana Tech’s biggest rival, Southern Miss.
“Manny Garcia’s walkoff win against Southern Miss and the two games in the conference tournament against Southern Miss are up there. We were down 8-0 in the fifth inning when Coach (Mitch) Gaspard calls us up and says, ‘If we’re going to lose, we’re not about to get run ruled in our own tournament. I don’t care if we lose, but you better show some fight,’” Young said.
From practicing at Ruston High School at 10 a.m. two years ago to playing in a brand new J.C. Love Field, Young and his fellow Bulldogs endured some of the lowest points in school history while also getting to enjoy some of the best.
“I think the tornado, looking back on that as a disaster, was one of the best things to happen to this program,” Young said. “You see the facilities for itself now. It’s just incredible what happened this past year.”
Young said once the team knew Parker Bates and Hunter Wells was coming back, that sealed pretty much everyone else’s fate of returning.
“Once we knew they were coming back, we thought, ‘OK, this could be a special year,’” Young said. “Coach Burroughs has said it before that he didn’t really have to coach a lot and that he could sit back and let us do our thing because we were an older team.”
Young boasted a perfect fielding percentage through the regular season en route to becoming the Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year. As fate would have it, Young committed his first error in the Conference-USA Tournament, but for Young, it was sort of like getting that monkey off of his proverbial back.
“Our Twitter guy tweeted out Mr. 1,000, and then it was kind of a joke in the dugout like, ‘Ah, he jinxed you. You’re going to make your first error,’” Young said. “I think it was five or six games later when I had my first error in the conference tournament. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t thinking about it in the back of my mind. I tried not to let that affect me at all. When I did have my first error, it was kind of comical. I just started laughing, and the score was like 12-4, so it wasn’t a huge error. It was good to actually get it out of the way before the regional and bigger conference games.”
Louisiana Tech’s journey ultimately culminated with a loss to N.C. State in the regionals, but it’s hard to call what Young and his teammates did anything but a success. They’ve certainly left a strong imprint of what Louisiana Tech baseball should look like, and Young has no doubts that will continue whether he’s present or not in 2022.
“I think what Coach (Lane) Burroughs, (Mitch) Gaspard and (Mike) Silva have done for this program in the short time they’ve been here speaks for itself,” Young said. “As long as Coach Burroughs is at the top, this program will exceed what happened this year for years to come.”
If Young gets the call in July it will be a dream come true for the West Monroe grad. But if he doesn’t get to pursue a career at the next level just yet, well, that’ll also be just fine for one of only seven Bulldog baseball players to ever earn All-American status.
“(Playing in the pros) would mean everything,” Young said. “I’m sure I’ll be speechless but very humbled at the same time, but I’m just thankful for everybody along the way. All the hard work I’ve put in will seemingly pay off. If that doesn’t happen, I won’t bat an eye. I’ll be ready to come back and be a Bulldog. I truly think it’s a win-win situation for me.”