Thornton signs with Graceland
Taylor Thornton never thought she’d play college softball. She’d always had the dream, but she thought it was exactly that — a dream.
Through a bit of good fortune, though, Thornton, a senior at High Point Central, will get the opportunity to play at the next level, as she has signed with NAIA school Graceland University.
“It’s crazy,” she says. “I’ve wanted to all the time as a kid. It’s my dream to play college softball. I went to all the games with my grandpa and my dad. It’s just always been something I’ve wanted to do.”
Thornton, the daughter of Scott and Lisa, started playing at 4 years old, following the lead of her father and grandfather, who’ve always had an interest in baseball. “It’s just been a family kind of thing,” she says.
She’s played a number of sports growing up — seven by her count — but she has a particular passion for playing softball. And that’s kept her going over the years, as she’s played on travel teams and into high school.
“(Other sports) were really never for me, and I’d always jump back to softball,” says Thornton, who mainly plays middle infield. “It just really shows me that it’s my sport. I enjoyed them, but it wasn’t the same as softball.”
A transfer from Mooresville, she was named the team captain in her only season with the Bison. She is the first Central softball player in the fast-pitch era to sign to play collegiately, according to athletic director Mike Cook.
“She’s a great captain. She’s all I can ask for in a captain,” first-year Central coach Kristin May says. “She does a great job. She keeps the girls in check. She’s very encouraging and keeps them uplifted. So, that’s all I can ask for.
“She’s a great hitter. She makes great plays in the field. She can throw from her knees — that’s very difficult to do. She keeps the team up, and she’s a great team supporter. She’s just a great team captain.”
In looking at schools, Thornton, who wasn’t looking to play college softball originally, was accepted to Graceland. After the coach approached her about playing, she decided to go for it, as much of a surprise as it was.
“It really never crossed my mind,” says Thornton, who wants to study early childhood education. “I always wanted to play college softball, but I never thought I’d actually have a chance to.
“I just feel really proud of myself for getting this far. And I’m really thankful overall.”