STRATFORD—It’s easy to be impressed by the fact Taylor Lubas recorded her 100th career hit earlier this week.
It’s a milestone moment akin to a 1,000-point scorer in basketball, only it shows a perhaps even more impressive four-year longevity at being able to hit a round ball with a round bat and finding success.
What makes Lubas’ effort even more impressive is when you consider what came softball-wise before the Stratford High center fielder stepped on the Red Devils’ practice field in the spring of 2016.
Simply put, nothing.
Well, one year of T-ball when she was probably five or six years old
“I started playing as a freshman,” Lubas admitted the day after she went 5-for-5 in Stratford’s 12-1 win over Bethel on Monday. “I just picked up the game so quickly thanks to (Stratford coaches Jackie Sherrick and her husband Gary) teaching me everything I needed to know. It’s showing now.”
After notching three more hits in a Tuesday win over Platt Tech, Lubas is at 104 hits heading into Saturday’s game at Weston.
With at least 17 more games to play, albeit it hopefully a couple more, she needs 37 more to match the school record set by Karen Rodrigues.
That’s 2.2 hits per game, if you do the math.
Individual milestones and records are secondary on Lubas’ list of things to do accomplish as a Stratford High senior athlete, however.
“States obviously is our first goal,” Lubas said. “And I want to win a first-round game, 100 percent. I also want to beat some of the teams that have blown us out the last few years and never considered us competition. I just want to get back at them.”
The Red Devils have opened the season with a 5-0 mark, having made just three errors in those games.
In addition to leading the defense from center field, Lubas starts the show at the top of the line-up and gets her team going offensively, too.
“Taylor brings an element of speed that changes the game. Whether on defense or offense, her presence is known on the field,” Stratford head coach Jackie Sherrick said.
When the life-long soccer standout showed up to play softball, the potential in Lubas’ game was obvious.
“Taylor is the type of athlete who loves to compete,” Gary Sherrick said. “As coaches, we took what we knew about the game and took her athletic ability and combined it and it has worked out really well.”
The game plan was simple.
“We made it very simple for Taylor,” Gary Sherrick added. “See the ball, hit the ball. See ball, catch ball.”
From there, Lubas’ work-ethic took her the rest of the way.
“I think getting 100 hits just lets me know that every day I’ve been here, my hard work has kind of paid off,” Lubas said. “I had no idea what it was going to be like, playing softball. I just wanted to enjoy it. Picking it up so late and knowing how much I liked it my first year, I just knew I wanted to have fun with my career.”
Winning has made the game even more fun (Stratford had just two wins during her freshman season), but the addition of two other players helped Lubas take her game to the next level.
When junior pitcher Angela Grindrod and shortstop Rachel Newall arrived as freshmen, and serious travel ball players, Lubas got more serious about the game.
“It helps when Newall, Grindrod and other players like Riley Matto can have softball related conversations with Taylor,” Gary Sherrick said. “Trying to catch up with knowledge or any sport at a high level can be very challenging. Hard work and the willingness to get better every day is why Taylor has been successful.”
And Lubas is still hungry to learn more.
“Taylor continues to be willing to be a student of the game,” Jackie Sherrick said. “She comes every day to learn and isn’t afraid to ask questions. From freshman year of breaking down the game to her senior year where the game comes more naturally, we can only look forward to what the rest of the season holds for her.”
Lubas became a three-sport athlete at Stratford when she picked up bowling, alongside softball teammate Melissa Uhrnyowski, as a sophomore.
A former gymnast, who gave up that sport in eighth grade, soccer had been her first love for most her life.
But now, Lubas said, she’s considering trying to give softball a shot at the next level.
She’s been accepted at Sacred Heart University and is thinking about trying to walk on with the Pioneers.
“I’m definitely a soccer player who played softball, only because I’ve been doing it for so long,” she said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Which is what the Stratford coaches probably said to themselves when Lubas the soccer player showed up her freshman year.
And looked at what happened: One hundred and four hits and counting.
(On the Sidelines is an occasional online feature column written by Stratford Sports Scene editor John Nash)