Shining Stars: Taylor Gilligan

by Matt Cosentino; Photos Tim Hawk | Apr 19, 2015
Shining Stars: Taylor Gilligan …From the pages of South Jersey Magazine…

Taylor Gilligan, Shawnee softball
A senior catcher, Gilligan was an all-South Jersey selection in 2014, when she had a .538 batting average and led Burlington County with 11 home runs. Also a contributor on Shawnee’s back-to-back South Jersey championship teams in basketball, Gilligan will focus on softball next year at Dominican College in New York.

SJM: You got another late start to softball season this year because of the basketball playoffs. Can you describe what that ride was like to make it to the state final in consecutive years?
TG: It was incredible. It’s so fun with the group of girls we have. We’ve been playing together since sixth grade. I didn’t worry too much about softball because of how crazy the run was [in basketball].

SJM: The softball team seems to have the potential to go on a similar run as the basketball team. What are the keys for a successful season?
TG: I think we definitely have a chance. We have pretty much every starter back except for one senior from last year. We’re in a great position and we have great team chemistry this year.

SJM: Last year was such a breakout season for you personally. Why did everything click?
TG: I don’t know what it was. I was just feeling good [at the plate] all season. The season didn’t really end the way we wanted it to. I had a good season, but unfortunately the team didn’t.

SJM: Did you surprise yourself with all of your offensive success?
TG: I expect that out of myself. Sometimes I have a tough time and get into a slump. Last year I just felt good all season, and luckily the results were good.

SJM: As a catcher, do you feel like your defense is just as important as your offense?
TG: In a way, yeah. As the catcher, I have to look out for everyone else on the team and calm everyone down when things get crazy. I think defense is more important than offense. If you don’t get the stops on defense, your offense isn’t going to do much.

SJM: Who are some of the toughest pitchers you’ve faced in South Jersey?
TG: Last year it was [Washington] Township’s pitcher, Jenna Mills. For some reason, I could not hit her. Taylor Coroneos [pitched for Washington Township] in my freshman and sophomore years, and she was really good too. One year I think we played Township three or four times during the season. It’s nice when you play these competitive teams throughout the season, because it prepares you so well for the playoffs.

SJM: How do you like growing up with a twin sister [Connor, a third baseman/pitcher for the Renegades] and playing softball with her? Are there more positives than negatives?
TG: I think it’s definitely more positive, even though she’s standing right next to me right now like a weirdo. Growing up, she was a pitcher and I was a catcher. She was such a dominant pitcher and I never wanted to catch her. I think I was 11 and my mom bribed me to catch her finally. I forget what she bribed me with, but she needed me to catch her. I think it’s going to happen again this year; she’s finally going to pitch [for Shawnee].

SJM: Do you argue at all on the field?
TG: Oh, definitely. There’s times when she’s having a tough time and I go out there and say, ‘Connor, come on, you have to pick it up.’ She yells at me and tells me to back to home plate. But we always end up laughing it off.

SJM: You two are going to different colleges next year, right?
TG: Yeah, unfortunately. We always planned on going together. … With athletics, it’s hard to get one coach interested in two of you. So once we got older, we realized it might not happen. It’s going to be tough, but I think we’ll be alright.

SJM: With Connor in West Virginia at Shepherd University and you in New York, do you think you’ll be constantly calling and texting each other?
TG: Yeah, she won’t leave me alone.

SJM: What went into your college decision?
TG: Distance-wise, it was a great fit. Academic-wise, they have what I’m looking for. I’m not sure if I want to go into athletic training or education, but they have a really good athletic training program. So that was a big positive.

SJM: What do you think you’ll miss most about home when you go away?
TG: Definitely my family and my dog. I’m not really sure what kind of dog she is—she’s a German shepherd mixed with something. I also have a 25-year-old sister and 23-year-old brother. They both finished college and are living back at home right now.

SJM: You seem like a big sports fan in general. Who are some of the athletes you enjoy watching?
TG: I don’t pick out athletes, but I just love watching college sports. I’m obsessed with watching college basketball. Every time I’m home, it’s on. I really love the Notre Dame basketball team.

SJM: Aside from sports, what are some of your interests?
TG: I don’t really have any interests other than sports. Either I’m at practice or watching a game or I’m at school. I like being at home and relaxing with my family.

SJM: What do you like about going to school at Shawnee?
TG: I love Shawnee. The whole staff is so kind and they help you with everything, and the athletics are a huge plus. These past four years that I’ve been here, all four classes have brought so much success to the programs. It’s awesome to be able to say you go to Shawnee. … Even the academics are great.

SJM: I notice you’re pretty active on Twitter. Is that a platform you like to use?
TG: I like keeping up with everything. [During basketball season] we were able to tell everyone to come support us during the South Jersey final or the state final. During the sectional final we had a huge turnout from our fans. It’s good to use Twitter to get that out there. Even when we were waiting to hear who we were going to play in the state final, I was refreshing every five minutes to … find out who were playing. It’s awesome to get second-by-second updates.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April, 2015).
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Author: Matt Cosentino; Photos by Tim Hawk

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