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Taylor Worthey, a Paola senior, signed a letter of intent at Little Town on Thursday, Sept. 17, to play softball at Culver-Stockton College next year. Pictured with Taylor are (in front, from left) hitting coach Joanne Clark, Culver-Stockton softball coach Anjay Clark and Taylor’s mother, Alicia; (standing) Team Kansas Rodgers coach Tom Rodgers, Taylor’s father Chris and Bandits coaches Roger Bias and Chris Billings.

PAOLA — Senior Taylor Worthey has come a long way since playing on her father’s “Day Care” softball team when she was just 4 years old.

Worthey grew to love the game of softball and excelled as a catcher and outfielder. With family and friends, coaches and instructors by her side, she signed a national letter of intent to play softball at Culver-Stockton College.

She made it official Thursday, Sept. 18, at a ceremony held at Little Town south of the Paola Park Square.

Culver-Stockton coach Anjay Clark drove more than four hours to be at the signing, welcoming the newest member to the Wildcat softball family.

Worthey heard about the Culver-Stockton when former teammate Hannah Menefee signed with the program two years ago. She made a college visit last year and met with then assistant coach Clark, who was interviewing for the head coaching position.

After visiting a few other colleges, Worthey knew Culver-Stockton was home.

“I wanted to go to a small college in a beautiful place,” Worthey said. “The campus there is so beautiful. I met with the coaches and the players, and it just felt right.”

Worthey started playing softball on that T-ball team when she was 4. She also played soccer at age 5.

After a few years away from the game, Worthey returned to the softball diamond when she was in the fifth grade and has been there ever since.

She played for the Paola High School Lady Panthers. Worthey has also played club softball with Team Kansas Rodgers and spent two years playing summer ball with the Bandits.

Worthey left an impression on coaches and instructors wherever she went. Tom Rodgers from Team Kansas Rodgers, Bandits coaches Roger Bias and Chris Billings as well as hitting instructor Joanne Clark all turned out to be part of Worthey’s big day.

They left an impression on her, too, Worthey said.

“Playing for the high school team and the summer teams has helped prepare me a lot,” she said. “Having a lot of different coaches like that, you learn and take away things. Each of them individually had an impact on me as a person and a player.”

Worthey said she is ready for the next level.

“First it is a bit scary,” she said. “The next step is going to be different with new challenges, but also new opportunities.

“I love the challenge of softball,” Worthey said. “Every game is a new experience. It is always a new playing field filled with opportunities.”

Worthey was recruited by Culver-Stockton College as a catcher and outfielder. The recruiting process was challenging to say the least, due to COVID-19, coach Clark said.

“She came for a visit last summer, and I got to interview her, even before I was the head coach,” Clark said. “I was the assistant coach and hoping to get the position. I wanted to make sure this was the right fit for her and encouraged her to make other college visits.

“It was difficult recruiting, not getting to come to one of her games,” Clark said. “We were able to see some of her games on video and we liked what we saw. We knew we were getting a great person and a great player.”

Taylor plans on majoring in psychology with a minor in business, counseling or psychological medicine. She is the daughter of Chris and Alicia Worthey of Paola.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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