Mission Viejo's McQuillin rises above obstacles, wins softball National POY award
JUN 18, 2014 9:59p ET
The numbers are gaudy. 25-1, 0.69 ERA, 316 strikeouts in 173.2 innings, two perfect games while leading Mission Viejo to its first CIF Southern Section championship in the 2014 season.
The numbers warrant recognition which Mission Viejo junior pitcher Taylor McQuillin received Wednesday being named the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year.
First period English had a different feel on Wednesday when McQuillin was surprised by former UCLA and USA National Team gold medalist Amanda Freed to inform her on winning the award.
The well deserved award for McQuillin is nothing short of remarkable. But the numbers only tell part of the tale. Behind the numbers is a tale of perseverance. One of immense tenacity.
McQuillin doesn't make excuses. She rises above the obstacles.
She was born with Duane Syndrome -- a rare, congenital disorder of eye movement in which there is a miswiring of the eye muscles that causes some eye muscles to contract when they should not and other eye muscles not to contract when they should, according to Medscape.com. The lefty is legally blind in her left eye. By the age of five she had undergone four surgeries which left her with partial hearing in her left ear.
Too young to remember any of the surgeries except for some of the events surrounding the final one, McQuillin has never viewed herself as having a handicap.
It was just life. So she led a normal one, sort of.
Sports were always a big part of her life but her performances were far from the norm.
Softball was a sport she always loved because of the competitiveness it provided.
However, growing up she danced. She played soccer. She took up taekwondo. McQuillin stopped her stint with martial arts at the age of 11. Shortly after earning her black belt.
"I didn't see it as a setback," McQuillin said of losing her sight. "I just saw it as something that motivated me to prove to people that even though I couldn't see out of it Iâm still capable of going out there and playing just like anyone else."
Today she's an example for other little girls and boys with Duane Syndrome on how to overcome it.
"Don't be afraid (to) go full force at your goals or let anyone tell you that you canât do something," she said. "If you work hard enough and you put the effort in you're more than capable of doing it no matter what."
McQuillin has already committed to the University of Arizona but CIF Southern Section beware, the nation's top player still has another year left to potentially lead the Diablos to back-to-back sectional titles.
She's the fourth player from a CIF Southern Section school to earn Gatorade Softball National Player of the Year honors and the first since Mater Dei's Tia Bollinger in 2000.
McQuillin is now in the running for Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year which will be announced this summer.
"It's so unbelievably amazing," she said of winning the National Player of the Year award.
So is she.