OK, getting your softball highlight on ESPN’s SportsCenter is one thing, but … how about making four amazing catches in one game.
Pearl City’s Taylor Au had a game to remember Tuesday night in a 10-0, six-inning softball win over Nanakuli at Central Oahu Regional Park.
The freshman made not one, not two, not three, but four spectacular grabs from her left-field position. And you read that right — freshman.
In the history of baseball/softball, what she did was rare and may even be unprecedented. That seems kind of an easy statement to pass off as BS. But if anyone can think of a better defensive game in the outfield, let them speak up now.
Surely, a tiny freshman from Pearl City isn’t the person who made the most outstanding defensive plays in one game in the history of the two sports. It just can’t be true.
But you be the judge, and, for sure, it is just high school softball in Hawaii, not the major leagues. To understate it, she had a worthy defensive outing. To overblow it, she had a performance for the ages.
Twice, she robbed two home runs by crashing into and knocking over the movable left-field fence — one on the first batter of the game and the other in the fifth inning. That right there is a career worth of highlights, but she added a running, diving, fully outstretched grab of a liner that was about to drop just inside the foul line. And the least amazing of them was a running, lunging catch of a hard hit ball a few feet away from crashing into the stationary fence in foul territory.
Au, who throws and bats left-handed, helped on the offensive side in a big way, too. In her only at-bat in the sixth, she cracked a double into the left-center gap and then stole third before sprinting home on a sacrifice fly for the 10th, mercy-rule winning run.
Fans and coaches around the league will certainly be keeping an eye on this kid as the season progresses. Where will that kind of talent in such a small amount of time take her?
I caught up with Au and head coach Chad Obara at Thursday’s practice.
Au is soft spoken and team oriented, and she deflected all the credit elsewhere.
“From my coaches, they help me out every day when we come to practice,” she said, when asked where the out-of-this world fielding instincts come from. “They always teach us something new.”
Pressed a little further, she was asked if she gives the defensive side of the game more attention, and her answer was noncommittal. But she did say, “I like diving.”
And then she added, “I just wanted to help my team.”
Au plays club softball and she used to play baseball.
“She has been in baseball her whole life, since age 6,” Obara said. “I’ve had the pleasure of coaching her since she was about 8 or 9 in Little League, when she was playing against the boys. She does well with the boys. I knew what she was capable of. She was given the opportunities with those balls that got hit out there and she made the plays. It’s her preparation. She was ready to go get them. That’s the impressive part: She was ready for all of those.”
Obara said he doesn’t know how one of the catches made it on to SportsCenter.
“I’m sure (ESPN anchor) Neal Everett (a former Hawaii sportscaster) had something to do with it,” he added.
OC 16 play-by-play voice Felipe Ojastro posted the SportsCenter top play on his Twitter page. Watch the video below.
CONGRATS TO PEARL CITY'S TAYLOR AU.
MAKING SPORTSCENTER. CHEEE. pic.twitter.com/wmabLdDAva
— Felipe Ojastro (@FelipeOjastro) March 2, 2017