Long Beach State

Long Beach State Softball’s Rowland Named All-American

Taylor Rowland’s college softball career hasn’t been typical, but last week it turned historic when the Long Beach State sophomore became the fifth 49er to be named an All-American. Rowland earned second-team honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

“I couldn’t have done anything this season without the support of my family and my coaches,” Rowland said. “They’re a huge part of my success.”

Rowland, a transfer from Tennessee, led LBSU with 12 home runs and set a single-season record with 58 RBIs. She was first in the Big West in RBIs, seventh in batting average (.351) and third in slugging percentage (.619). Rowland also was named both First Team All-Big West and First Team NCFA All-Region.

Rowland, a Chino Hills native, grew up in an athletic household as the youngest of four children.

“All of my older siblings played sports, and we were always at some type of field,” Rowland said. “My brother, Michael, played baseball and I really looked up to him. Softball just came more naturally for me. When I started getting good at 12 or 13, I really started to like it.”

Rowland played for the Orange County Batbusters and So Cal Athletics softball clubs before deciding to attend Ayala High, just like her siblings. She won a 14U PFG (Premier Girls Fastpitch) championship, but despite being on elite teams all of her life, Rowland hasn’t won a title since then. As a sophomore at Ayala, her team gave up a lead and was upset by Long Beach Millikan in the CIF quarterfinals.

“It’s actually not something I think about,” Rowland said of not winning championships. “Of course losing is not the goal, but I’m not too concerned with the championships we win or don’t win. I’m just out here to play. The love of the game is what keeps me going.”

As a four-year letter winner at Ayala, Rowland started getting letters from colleges before her sophomore season after hitting .407 with six home runs as a freshman. She hit .375 with 27 RBI and five home runs as a senior, and was No. 59 in the nation on Full Count Softball’s Top 100 list of seniors that year. Rowland accepted a scholarship offer from Tennessee.

“I thought I wanted to go away to college,” Rowland said. “I was just really drawn in by Tennessee’s big campus, the big football team, the orange and everything.”

During her first fall game with the Volunteers, just weeks after arriving in Tennessee, Rowland suffered a freak ACL injury while rounding second on a double.

“I was pretty upset,” Rowland said. “I was 2,000 miles away from my family for the first time. It was hard to overcome, and quite a journey. But I’m really grateful for the experience of testing myself and finding out how strong I can be to get through something like that.”

Rowland made a full recovery from the ACL tear, and won playing time as a redshirt freshman. She had five doubles and two home runs with 24 RBIs, but was feeling homesick all season.

“Being away from my family was really hard,” Rowland said. “I missed just being able to hit with my dad on a Tuesday night, or eat dinner with my family. The Beach was the perfect fit.”

Ashley Holmes (2015), Haley Tobler and Alley Perkins (2016) also transferred from Tennessee to Long Beach State.

This season, LBSU (43-14) reached the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in the last 12 years, but were eliminated in the Tempe Regional with two losses to Ole Miss. The first was a blowout loss, but the season finale was a 1-0 heartbreaking loss.

“I think as a team we did a great job getting to postseason, but we need to focus on stepping up to the platform we were given,” Rowland said. “I think we fell short of that in the first game against Ole Miss. Next season, we need to build off of that second game against Ole Miss. We really just left everything out on the field.”

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.