Greenbrier softball coach Garrett Black pulled Taylor DuPree aside during an eighth-grade game and instructed her to change everything she had ever known at the plate. Three years later, it has made all the difference.
DuPree broke Greenbrier’s single-season record for batting average and became the fifth player in program history to earn Georgia Player of the Year honors. DuPree won the award for Class AAAAA. Her efforts at the plate and in the field have made her The Augusta Chronicle Softball Player of the Year.
DuPree hit .530 as a junior this season, blowing past the previous record of .509 set in 2004. She had an on-base percentage of .591 with six doubles, two triples and a home run, helping lead Greenbrier to the Elite Eight of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
One swift but major change to her approach at the plate three years before made all of this possible.
“In the middle of a game, coach Black said, ‘Taylor, you’re too fast to be on the right side, and you’re not exactly bulky enough to be on the right side.’ So he wanted me to switch over, so he switched me in the middle of a game,” DuPree said.
DuPree had no prior experience hitting left-handed. As expected, she was apprehensive.
“He wasn’t going to let me go back to the right side, because he knew if I worked at it I would become good at it,” she said. “It was more of me trusting him. I trusted coach Black and he has gotten me to where I am today.”
DuPree started at third base her freshman and sophomore years, continuing to work at hitting from the left side. She shifted to shortstop this season – another move at Black’s instruction – and both challenges were met with determination, culminating in a historic individual season.
“She has really improved so much offensively,” Black said. “She’s become one of the best hitters in the state of Georgia.”
After setting a program record and doing something only four previous players in the team’s history have accomplished, expectations remain high for the shortstop who has verbally committed to play at the College of Charleston.
“She knows that just because she was player of the year, there are no guarantees next year,” Black said. “I think Taylor understands that it’s easier to obtain something sometimes than maintain. She’s got to get better than she was this year, but she knows that. I’m not worried about her work ethic. She’ll set a tremendous example for us.”