BY DEAN HOCKNEY
Taylor High School continues its successful run of helping student-athletes move to the next level as Athletic Director Karen Franklin directed signing ceremonies for two more Titans. Kelsey Gordon and Caitlyn Arnold have accepted scholarships to Oakland City University to play NCAA Division II softball. Arnold also happens to be the daughter of Taylor head softball coach Shane Arnold.
“I am very proud to have these girls play here,” said Franklin. “And I am tickled to death to have him on staff here.”
With a season of softball still left at Taylor, both athletes have left their marks on the Lady Titans program – and both were named to the Kokomo Perspective/Howard County Coaches All-County Softball Team. Gordon is dominant on the mound as she finished last season 13-4 with a 1.90 earned run average. Her best friend hit .467 and knocked home 12 RBI’s during a sensational junior season.
“It is something that since I can remember, pitching is something I have loved to do and this has always been a goal – one of my dreams,” said Gordon, who tossed 142 strikeouts a year ago while also hitting .397 with four home runs. “I have loved softball my whole life, it is just awesome.”
Gordon said she fell in love with Oakland City from the first time she visited.
“Then I fell in love with the coach and the team; it was the right decision,” said Gordon, who set a Lady Titans single-season record with 33 RBI’s last year. “As a freshman, they expect me to jump in right away as a pitcher. I hope to be in one of the top three spots.”
Despite being best friends, Gordon said she and Arnold will not room together on the OCU campus.
“We are too much like sisters,” said a laughing, and tearful, Gordon. “We grew up together, and I don’t think we have gone a week without seeing each other. She has had a great impact on my life.”
As for Arnold, she wasn’t sure softball would be in her future when she gazed into the crystal ball years ago – but she sure dreamed about it.
“Yes, I dreamed about it, and I am one of those kind of people believe you can reach your dreams,” said Arnold, who says she only sees her father as a coach on the field. “But I never thought for sure that I would get there. That was a big dream, but it happened.”
But now the signing is behind her and she has her college future secure; the senior knows that she cannot let up on her hard work and dreams.
“I am in awe right now, this is just, well, big,” said Arnold, who blistered the base paths and scored 26 runs a year ago. “It is a relief that it is over (the signing), but there is still a lot of hard work left; I am not stopping now.
Coach Arnold beams when he talks about the Taylor softball program. And while he will coach his daughter for one final season, he says the entire program is full of Arnold’s and Gordon’s and the future is bright.
“It is a very exciting time for Taylor softball,” said Arnold, who will start his second season as head coach this spring. “The softball program is just tremendous, from the youth to the high school level – and these signings are just a testament to all of the hard work of a lot of people, not just me. We have two great young ladies, and this is just the beginning. We are just scratching the surface; we are going to have a lot of young ladies sign in the future.”
Oakland City is located north of Evansville and has a strong softball history. Along with playing at the NCAA DII level, they also participate in the National Christian College Athletic Association. The Lady Oaks were NCCAA Division I national runners-up in 1997.