Faces in KS: Taylor Compton

Taylor Compton of Riverton pictured with the 2016 3A state trophy. (submitted photo)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Apr 24, 2017

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When it comes to high school softball players in the state of Kansas perhaps none are more dominant than Riverton softball player, Taylor Compton. Compton, a senior at 3A Riverton, which is located in the Southeast corner of the state, is putting up record breaking numbers over her career.

Compton, a multiple time all-state pitcher, is 9-0 this season and has a 64-9 career record in the circle for the Rams. She has 77 strikeouts this season and an amazing 746 in her career. Her career ERA is 0.82. But it doesn't stop for Compton as a pitcher, she is also one of the top hitters in the state with a career .430 AVG, 100 hits, 20 doubles, four triples and 13 HRs. Compton is one of the most complete softball players in the history of Kansas high school softball. To put it in perspective, Compton needs 10 more wins this season to tie the Kansas state record of 74 pitching wins in a career, also held by a Riverton player in Jenny Mitchell back in 2001. She needs 138 more strikeouts this season to tie the career state record of 884 by Jessica Hoppock of Spring Hill in 2003.

Compton's best accomplishment to date is pitching a complete game 11 inning shutout in the 3A state championship last fall then hitting a walk-off homer in extra innings to give Riverton the 3A crown 2-0 over Oskaloosa. How do you top that in a career, well it may be tough, but nothing is surprising with the way Compton has produced.

"Even though I may have earned a majority of the press for the state title, it was a total team accomplishment and effort. Our amazing defense help protect Oskaloosa from scoring. It felt great to pitch 11 scoreless innings and it felt even better once i hit the walk-off home run. I can't describe the overwhelming feeling of excitement I felt when I watched that ball sail over the centerfield fence." Compton said.

Despite multiple major division one opportunities, Compton chose to stay local and play at Pittsburg State, which is around 20 minutes north and is currently one of the top teams in the MIAA. 

"Pitt State was the last place I wanted to go a couple years ago, I was dead set on major D1's far away. I made the decision to stay close because I am so close to my family. I can't imagine living far away from my three younger sisters. When Coach Econnomon talked me into visit I fell in love with the campus and now I cant wait to play for Coach E." Compton said .

Compton plays competitive softball for the Kansas City Peppers - Wallace. She has also played multiple years for the Tulsa Elite '98 and has guest played for a variety of teams across the country including the Birmingham Thunderbolts.

Compton is much more than a softball player, she is also an outanding student. With a 4.0 GPA she is involved in just about everything at the high school. She is the Student Council President, National Honor Society Historian, History Club President, Science Club Secretary and senior class secretary. She is also involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Educators Association, Math Club, Math League and the Spanish Club. 

This season Riverton is primed to repeat in 3A and have a perfect 9-0 record, the Rams could finish the season undefeated but play in the very tough CNC League. The league produced two state champions last year in Riverton (3A) and Frontenac (4A-II). This isn't just a little stint for Riverton with Compoton either. Head coach Brian Mitchell is one of the top small classification coaches in the entire state and has led the Rams to multiple state appearances and three state titles over the years (2009,2010,2016). Riverton is back in action this Monday against Southeast-Cherokee. 

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This feature is presented by Play it Again Sports - Joplin, Mo. & Dynamite Graphix - Joplin, Mo.

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Q&A w/ Compton

How did you get involved in softball? – I started playing softball when I was six years old.  My mom was an outstanding athlete back in the day and always hoped that my sisters and I would fall in love with the game as much as she did.  She was my team’s coach from t-ball through 8U.  My mom still helps me improve my skills to this day.  I’m beyond grateful for everything my mom has taught me and I’m so glad she introduced me to this amazing game.

How’s the season going so far, record, key games coming up? – My team and I are off to a great start this season.  We’re currently 9-0.  Wow, It’s hard for me to believe that my senior softball season is already almost half way over… but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.  Although we must give our best effort against every team we face, our toughest competition will most likely be Frontenac when we play them again before regionals.

How fast have you been clocked at, throwing underhand is a natural motion, do you ever get tired? – I honestly don’t know exactly how hard I’m throwing right now.  However, I do know that I was clocked at 63 mph a few years ago at a Mizzou camp.  Since throwing underhand is a natural motion, it takes me a while to get tired.  I actually tend to become stronger as the game progresses.  On my competitive teams, I’ve been relied on to throw a large amount of the games we play within major tournaments.  Many of those games have been back-to-back-to-back…  My team and I almost always seem to make it to the final few games of whatever tournament we’re competing in.

How good is not only the CNC but Southeast Kansas softball at the lower levels of Kansas? – The CNC is definitely one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conference in Kansas.  If you just look at this past season, four different schools from our conference won a state title.  In softball, we won the 3A and Frontenac won the 4A-DII.  In baseball, St. Mary’s Colgan won the 2-1A and Baxter Springs won the 4A-DII.  When we face other CNC softball teams, such as Girard or Galena, they’re usually great games to watch.  Most other teams we play that aren’t in our conference are still good, but the CNC teams are typically more competitive with each other.

What was it like to do what you did in the state title game last year not only as a team but as an individual with that hit and shut out? – Even though I earned the majority of the spotlight from the press, that accomplishment was a total team effort.  There were a few close situations where runners were in scoring position and my amazing defense would make a great play to keep Oskaloosa from scoring.  Our team’s energy was at an all-time high throughout that championship game.  I loved it.  Of course, it felt great to pitch 11 scoreless innings… and it felt even better to hit the walk-off homerun.  I can’t describe the overwhelming feeling of excitement I felt when I watched that ball sail over the centerfield fence.  That’s definitely a memory I’ll never forget.

Goals for this season? – My team has a variety of goals for this season.  Some are small, such as getting a “hard single” when we step up to the plate or “winning every pitch” when we’re on the field.  Other goals are much bigger.  We’re determined to have an undefeated season and bring back another state title.  Some of my personal goals include breaking the Kansas career strikeout and career wins records.  Although every goal I listed is possible for us to achieve, we must continue to push ourselves, stay hungry, and stay humble.     

Other key players on your team and how long have you all been playing together? – One of the biggest key players on my team is Sam Greninger.  She’s committed to Allen Community College.  We’re in the same class and have played ball together since 10U.  We have a special bond and I’m so blessed to have her as my catcher.  There are numerous occasions where a high school team may have a good pitcher, but they struggle to find someone who is able to catch her half-way decently.  There are also a lot of catchers who struggle catching rise balls, which causes the pitcher to feel as though she needs to let up at times.  I don’t have to worry about any of that when I throw to Sam because I know she’s the best in the state.  She also carries a big stick and already has three homeruns on this season.  Two other key players include my sisters, Jamee and Camryn.  Jamee is a junior and is currently working on choosing the right college for her.  We both play on the same club team, KC Peppers - Wallace.  She is an outstanding outfielder with just about the best range I’ve ever seen.  I never have to worry when a ball is hit in her direction because I know she’ll do whatever it takes in order to get the out or keep runners from scoring.  Jamee is also a fantastic first baseman.  She’s hitting lead off this year for our high school team and has done very well.  She’s had numerous solid hits, including a homerun, she’s ran out a few bunts, and she has stolen several bases.  Camryn is a freshman this year and is verbally committed to the University of Texas – Arlington.  I’m so excited that I get to play with her for one year in high school.  She’s currently playing third base for us and has done a great job.  Cam’s batting 5-hole.  Even though she has yet to hit her first homerun in high school ball, she has been one of our most consistent hitters.  It seems like she’s on base every time I look.  I’m so lucky to have Sam as my catcher and to have the opportunity to play with two of my sisters during high school.  My team has so many other great players, such as Jaylee Hopkins and McKayla Lee.  I wish I could brag about all of them in this article!

Best players in the area? – Some of the best players in the area include Sarah Spencer from Baxter Springs, Kaylee Harper from Frontenac, and Jacey Murphy from Girard.  These three girls are a few of the best in the CNC.  I have to step it up a notch when one of them steps up to the plate because I know each of them can hit the ball well.  I love pitching to them because I always crave a good challenge.

What will it take for you guys to repeat? – The most important things we need to do in order to bring home another state title are 1.) stay hungry and 2.) stay humble.  We have everything it takes to repeat… as long as we continue to keep our focus and we push ourselves to our limits.  We can’t allow ourselves to become complacent if we want to improve.  Each day, our goal is to be better than we were the previous day.

What is it like to play for Coach Mitchell? – Coach Mitchell is definitely one of the best coaches in the state of Kansas as he’s led his team to three state championships so far in his career as well as multiple other state tournament appearances.  I’m so lucky to have him as my high school coach.  He knows how to push us and how to make us an overall better team.  And if you want brownie points, be sure to add as many Eagles songs to your playlist as possible.

How is it to grow up in a place like Riverton in Southeast Kansas? – Even though we only have one stoplight and k-12 are all under one roof, I really do enjoy growing up in small-town Riverton, Kansas.  One of my favorite things is that everybody knows everybody.  I also absolutely love how supportive the whole community is.  No matter the sport, there’s most always a crowd of Riverton fans there to cheer on their Rams.   

Best place to eat in your area? – Mi Toritos is by far the best place to eat out in our area… even though it’s located in our rival town, Galena.  The food and service is always great and it doesn’t cost a fortune.  Most students eat there at least once a week because it’s so convenient! 

Favorite subject in school? – I’m a pretty big nerd.  I have a 4.0 and have earned the honor of being co-valedictorian of my class.  I’m also a Kansas Honor Scholar and have been invited to join Phi Theta Kappa.  I enjoy most every subject, but I’ve always preferred math and science courses.

Play any other sports? – I played basketball with the boys through 5th grade.  I also played volleyball and threw the shot put and discus throughout middle school.  I decided to focus primarily on softball and refining my pitching skills when I entered high school.

What summer teams do you play on? I started playing for Kansas City Peppers–Wallace this past season.  I was previously a member of Tulsa Elite ’98 for several years.  I’ve also guest played for a variety of teams including the Birmingham Thunderbolts.   

Why did you choose Pitt State and are you excited? – Pitt State was actually the last place I wanted to go to college up until a couple of years ago.  Originally, I was dead set on going to a high level D-I school far away from home.  Even though I had numerous opportunities to live out that dream, I made the decision to stay close to home so that I could be closer to family.  My three younger sisters are a huge part of my life and I can’t imagine living far away from them.  They’ve always been there to support me in whatever I’ve done, so I want to be able to come home and support them throughout their high school careers.  It will also be much easier for my family, friends, and other community members to come support me at Pittsburg.  I didn’t feel as though I was settling or lowering my expectations by any means when I made the decision to commit to Pitt.  Even though PSU is a D-II school, it feels like a D-I campus.  When Coach Economon finally talked me into taking a visit to Pitt, I fell in love with everything about the school.  The campus is beautiful, the academics are great, and of course, Coach E is an amazing coach and I can’t wait to play for her.  I’m very excited for what the future holds.

One thing the average person wouldn't know about you? – One thing the average person wouldn’t know about me is that I love to bake in my free time.