Where Are They Now: Taylor Varnell

Taylor Varnell is currently a Senior at the University Of Oral Roberts. He is sitting at 6-1 and 190 pounds. Varnell grew up Elk City, Oklahoma, but went to high school in Sayre, Oklahoma. Before Varnell came to Oral Roberts, he went to Western Oklahoma State College in Altus Oklahoma. Varnell play with Perry Warren and the SW Shockers during the 2013 and 2014 season, as he led them to a 2014 state runner up in American Legion. Varnell is currently majoring in business administration at ORU, and his Father Roy Varnell Jr. owns a power line company and his Mother Hope Rupp is a assistant to a financial advisor.

Varnell is a very experienced left-handed pitcher, who dominates hitters with his ability to throw his curveball. Varnell has a fastball with a lot of life, topping out at 93 mph. His change-up has proved it is set apart from others, as it tops out at 79. Varnell has been known for his capability to strikeout batters, on the season he has 40 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched. Varnell is 2-3 on the season, with a 6.30 ERA, and has only allowed 16 walks on the season. Varnell’s best outing was against #22 Wichita State, when he would throw 5 innings, allow 2 hits, and give up 1 run. He would finish with just 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Varnell over his carrer have learned to keep the ball in play and limit the home runs, as he has only allowed 4 over his 4 years in college baseball.

Interview:

Q: Explain the process of your recovery from Labrum surgery.

A: “Recovery from labrum surgery is really tough. I remember right after surgery I was doing research and found that the rate of recovery is only 6% so I was worried at first thinking this could be it for me in baseball. So I made the decision that I was going to go all out with my rehab. I told myself I was either going to come back 100% or blow it out again trying but I didn’t want to be a shell of myself like you see happen a lot with guys after shoulder surgery. So I went after my throwing program and rehab really aggressive and it was really bumpy, I had a lot of times when I thought that I wasn’t going to make it back or I couldn’t do it anymore. I made it through with the support of my teammates, coaches, athletic trainers, and my fiancée. Whenever I doubted myself they were all they’re to give me encouragement. I initially tore it in the beginning of my sophomore year and I my first game back was halfway through my junior year but I didn’t have my velocity or break that I had before. All the hard work finally paid off this fall when I got Back on campus and my shoulder was as good as new. My velocity was where it was before I got hurt and even the spring it’s been climbing to above where it was before the surgery.”

Q: Tell me how you feel to know you have a chance to play at the next level.

A: “Having an opportunity to play at the next level means the world to me. I mean it’s something I have literally wanted since I picked up a baseball. I used to idolize guys that got drafted like Dillon Overton from Weatherford and Gabe Winn, and now that I’m here it’s all kind of surreal. But I’m definitely honored to have the chance, especially after my injury when I thought my chances might be shot.”

Q: During your time with the Shockers what was your favorite moment.

A: My favorite part of playing with the shockers was definitely all the friendships I’ve made. Nothing specific stands out to me, but those nights on the road with all my buddies were special to me. I am also very grateful to have met Perry. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and really push me to be my best. The love and support he gives to all members of the shocker family is just amazing and I know that everyone that’s been apart of the organization is very thankful for him.”

Q: Explain your biggest role model, during your journey to the Major Leagues?

A: “Growing up I had many role models. For sports, I looked up to a lot of the older guys from my hometown, Sayre. I used to be the bat boy for the high school baseball team. I would try to be just like those guys. To me they might as well have been big leaguers. In my personal life my father was a big inspiration to me. He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. He would be gone for a long time working long hours as a powerline constructor but he always made time for me to give me a call or go do something with me when he was home. He showed me what hard work really means. Another one of my role models, was my High School coach, Colt Allison. He was one of my biggest role models and helped shape who I am today not only as a player but as a man.”

Q: In your opinion what is your most dominant pitch? And why?

A: “My dominant pitch is my curveball. I modeled it after my favorite pitcher, Barry Zito. It has a lot of 12-6 movement which throws batters off.”

Q: What would you say to other kids wanting to play in college baseball

A: “I would say that the mental side of the game is just as, if not more important than the physical. You have to develop your mind and your confidence in order to reach your potential.”

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