Quick, strong and versatile: Taylor Roten has made her mark on Lakeland High School’s softball program as an underclassman and has earned Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week honor. (Titus Mohler/Suffolk News-Herald)
Quick, strong and versatile: Taylor Roten has made her mark on Lakeland High School’s softball program as an underclassman and has earned Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week honor. (Titus Mohler/Suffolk News-Herald)

Roten’s poise reaps success

Published 12:23am Sunday, March 30, 2014

When armed with confidence, Lakeland High School softball standout Taylor Roten gets things done.

Fans chose the sophomore outfielder is the Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week for her performance on March 21 against visiting Indian River High School.

She contributed to the Lady Cavaliers’ 7-1 victory by going 2-for-3 at the plate, including an inside-the-park solo home run.

“I felt really good and really confident about that game, and it just made it even better that I got a home run,” Roten said.

Her sister, Ashley Roten, who is a senior softball player at King’s Fork High School, was able to watch the game since rain delays had altered the Lady Bulldogs’ schedule.

“I had the luxury of being able to watch her hit the home run and to be successful at the plate,” Ashley Roten said. “I’m very proud of her and everything that she has accomplished, especially as her big sister.”

Notably, a variety of King’s Fork athletes sent votes Roten’s way.

While Lady Cavaliers head coach Cara Byrd noted Taylor still has room to improve at the plate, including not getting behind in the count by watching strikes, she also identified the key ingredient that erases that issue for Roten.

“When her confidence is there, she’s just as good as anyone else,” Byrd said.

Taylor Roten got her first taste of the sport around the age of 5 when her father, Jayson Roten, started her and her sister on tee ball. For Taylor, it was a relatively brief introduction.

“I had gotten hit in the back in tee ball, and I was just like, ‘I quit,’ and then I got back into it later on,” she said.

She returned to the sport and played coach pitch when she was 7.

“All my friends were playing,” she said, so her motivation was simple: “I want(ed) to be with them.”

She went on to play for several travel ball programs, including Virginia Sting Fastpitch, Virginia Legends and Galaxy Fastpitch.

But Roten’s athletic endeavors have not been limited to softball.

“I used to do competition cheering, and then I actually play field hockey now,” she said. “Field hockey is my No. 1 sport.”

Roten said the training for field hockey is very hard, and “It’s an accomplishment to be on the team,” whether it is junior varsity or varsity. She has made JV.

“Ever since then, it’s just been like a love,” she said. “I just really love field hockey.”

To the benefit of Lakeland’s rebuilding softball program, though, Roten applies a similar drive to succeed in softball, too. She cited hard work and determination for her position as a starter on the varsity team for the second year, despite still being an underclassman.

“I wanted to be on varsity,” she said, and as others vying for spots pushed themselves, “I just wanted to push even more.”

Byrd highlighted what Roten brings to the team.

“She’s very athletic, just a natural athlete,” the coach said. “She’s quick, so she can cover a lot of ground in the outfield.”

That quickness also shows on the bases where Byrd said, “She’s probably the second-fastest person on our team,” after senior Megan Smith.

“She’s small, but she’s got strength,” Byrd said of Roten. The coach said Roten is also a versatile batter: “She can drag flat from the left, she can power hit from the right — when the confidence is there.”

Roten said a personal goal she has this year is to bring her batting average up.

But what motivates her to play her best each time out is a desire to give the team the key ingredient to her own success.

“I just want to win for all of us, because we all need that confidence,” she said.

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