For the past two years, Eastside pitcher Taylor Causey dominated Region 4-AAA hitters. For the next four, she’ll look to do the same at Brenau University.
Causey signed a letter of intent to play at Brenau next fall and becomes the second player from this year’s team to earn a four-year scholarship.
“I’m really excited for her. She’s probably excited to get this over with too,” Eastside coach Jason Stokes said. “It’s a lot of stress for these girls. I think she’s going to a good place. She looked at the school and went to visit them and really liked what she saw. I know they’re happy with what they are getting too.”
Causey was 11-4 in 17 games this year and led the team in every pitching category. Despite missing part of the season with a neck injury, she posted a 0.83 earned run average and struck out 107 batters in 93 innings. Causey is also the second Eastside pitcher the past three years to earn Region Pitcher of the Year award. She won the award in 2010. Amanda Henderson earned it in 2009.
Causey came out of nowhere in 2010 to become Eastside’s staff ace. She had the unenviable task of taking over after Henderson’s two-year run as perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the state. While she saw little action in 2009, she flourished as a starter her junior year. She notched 153 strikeouts against 51 walks while posting a 1.99 ERA en route to earning First Team All-Region and Pitcher of the Year.
“We saw as far back as her sophomore year that she had potential,” Stokes said. “Control was really her issue. We knew if she could get that under control she would be fine and that’s what she did.”
The key to Causey’s success was her ability to pitch rather than try and overpower hitters. Where Henderson had tremendous velocity to go along with good movement, Causey developed an all-around repertoire. In fact her best pitch was perhaps her changeup and she used it as well as her other pitches to strikeout 290 career batters.
“She put a lot of time into training and working with a pitching coach and improved her velocity. She was right there with the best in the state as far as her velocity went but the thing about her was her change of pace in hitting her spots,” Stokes said. “She could do that as well as anyone else.”
Causey wasn’t just Eastside’s ace. She also evolved into one of the Lady Eagles’ best hitters in 2011. She hit .338 and drove in 16 runs and finished second on the team in doubles. For her career she hit .319 with a pair of home runs and 50 RBIs.
“I’ve always thought she was a solid hitter,” Stokes said. “When she played travel ball they didn’t let her hit and that gets in girls’ minds. But she would come back here and think, ‘yeah, I really can hit’ and she can.”
Causey was slowed this year due to injury and missed much of the early part of the season. When she returned, she stabilized a reeling Eastside team and led them to a first-round state playoff series win over Harlem.
She pitched well enough for the Lady Eagles to win the region championship but a defensive lapse cost them in the final against Locust Grove. Causey rebounded with her gutsiest performance of the season the following week when she pitched Eastside past Harlem despite suffering from flu-like symptoms.
“I told Taylor at the end of the year I honestly don’t know a pitcher I would have taken over her,” Stokes said. “She’s been as good as the best we’ve ever had. She’ll be missed for sure.”