Editor’s Note: For 20 days in April, the Deseret News will profile 20 elite high school athletes from the 2020 graduating class and how they’re coping with the premature end of senior life on and off the field.
WEST JORDAN — Watching the rain out his hotel window in Phoenix, Copper Hills’ Brayden Taylor couldn’t help but wonder if this was how his high school baseball career would end.
Wednesday and Thursday’s games at the Arizona Boras Classic had already been rained out, and now news was coming out of Utah that the UHSAA had suspended all high school sports beginning the following weekend.
Unless the weather cleared allowing the Grizzlies to squeeze in a couple games on the weekend, they’d return to Utah not knowing when they’ll be allowed to play their favorite pastime again.
Fortunately for Copper Hills, the weather cleared and Copper Hills played one game on Friday and two on Saturday, and Taylor made sure to soak up every pitch.
“It was definitely in the back of our minds, we were like this is going to be one of our last games for a while, but we all stayed in the moment and still did what we do best and just went out and played. It was definitely really fun to play against that tier of competition,” said Taylor.
Copper Hills was very competitive in all three games despite going 0-3 against three of the top teams in Arizona, including MaxPreps’s No. 1-ranked Hamilton, Ariz.
The lack of baseball since returning to Utah has obviously been frustrating for Taylor, but the TCU commit said he’s trying to make do with the situation and hoping for a miracle.
“I miss being out there with my friends and doing what I love,” said Taylor, who was one of the top hitters in 6A last year with a .443 batting average.
“I have a tee set up in my garage, hit off the tee every day, throw balls of walls, play catch with my little brother, just doing everything I can to stay active and stay prepared in case a miracle happens and we can get out there,” said Taylor.
Being around his friends and teammates, whether it’s at school or on the diamond is what Taylor misses most. Fortunately he’s had one teammate to help pass the isolation by — his 14-year-old freshman brother Austin Taylor.
With the age difference between the brothers, they’ve never played on the same together, but at Copper Hills the freshmen dress for varsity games and Brayden Taylor was relishing the opportunity to have his little brother in the dugout throughout the season.
“It would’ve been really cool cause I know he looks up to me and I do my best to be the best role model for him, just for me and him to be on the same field would be incredible,” said Taylor.
The spread of COVID-19 has spoiled those plans temporarily, and perhaps permanently if Gov. Gary Herbert doesn’t open schools back up in May for the final month of the school year.
In the classroom, transitioning to online learning has been pretty easy for Taylor as many of his classes were already on computers anyway, but that hasn’t been quite the case for some of his teammates.
Regardless of what happens with the final year of his high school career, there’s still baseball in his future at TCU next year. That only eases some of the frustration he and his senior peers are feeling around the state.
“Just being out on the field with my teammates, just having fun with them, going out there, being competitive, being able to just play. We’ve all grown up playing baseball and to be pushed back is kind of sad. We can stay in touch with each other but it’s just not the same,” said Taylor.