Taylor and Etheredge headed to Europe in search of glory
One of the University of Regina’s top clubs, and one of the few squads that procured some hardware for themselves last season, is the softball team. Now, this summer, two of their top athletes, Alyssa Taylor and Mikaila Etheredge, are currently plying their trade internationally. In Taylor’s case, this means competing for Dutch team, Terrasvogels, while Etheredge will continue her well-travelled career with the Witches Linz in the Austrian league.
Competing in a European league means plenty of travel, something Etheridge said she is truly excited for.
“I’m most excited about the opportunity to play ball and learn the game from a different perspective. I’m also really excited about the travel opportunities available. Since Austria is in the middle of Europe, it is very easy to get to almost any destination. I will have the opportunity to visit Vienna, Rome, Venice, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Prague, and Copenhagen among some other smaller cities this summer.”
But what about at home, where the Cougars will be missing two key pieces from their bronze medal-winning team of last season? In a recent interview, now former coach Mike Smith said that they would be tough to replace.
“They were our best players. They were the league’s two best players. They were literally one and two in league voting for MVP, in fact I had a tough time trying to pick one over the other when we had to nominate somebody.”
One player (or two in this case) does not make a team, and Smith was quick to point out that there is plenty of talent that will be donning a Cougars jersey this season, even without the pitcher Smith considers their best and the western league’s most valuable player.
“If she[Alyssa Taylor] didn’t come back, that [the season] would obviously be a little more difficult for us, but we have a really, really, really strong team.”
And the rich get richer. Etheredge will likely be back near the end of the season and Smith said that there is a possibility that Taylor will be able to re-enter the fold as well. Having a strong team and being able to plug the team’s co-MVPs from the previous season into your lineup just prior to the playoffs can only spell good things. Mikaila herself is hoping to be back with the squad as soon as possible.
“I can’t wait to get back in the fall to finish the season with the Cougars. I think this year is going to be a great year for the Cougar softball team. I’m anticipating even better than last year. If there are no rain delays for our playoff tournament here in Europe, I could be back to Regina by Sept. 9, which would give me two additional weeks to play with the U of R. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.”
And the team hopes to have them back come playoff time, with their goal being able to move up from third to first, and take home that coveted gold medal. The aim of any sports team, but an especially attainable one for the girls in green and gold.