Mars softball pitcher Taylor Rotz prepares to come plateward during a recent Planets’ game.
ADAMS TWP — Taylor Rotz is used to playing softball on a big stage and that’s a key reason why she will be taking her talents to the next level. The Mars High senior pitcher on Monday signed a letter of intent, accepting a scholarship to continue her academic and athletic careers at Nova Southeastern University, a Division II school located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Rotz is hoping to close her high school career with individual and team success. She took a big step in that direction in Thursday’s 6-5, 13-inning victory over Kittanning. The right-hander struck out 18 batters and walked just two, as the Planets clinched their second straight Section 5-AAA title. One person not surprised by the effort turned in by Rotz is Mars coach Michele Goodworth. “She has been a huge asset to the program and leads by example,” she said. “She has so much experience that she doesn’t get rattled easily.” Rotz has had plenty of time to hone her skills. Though she did not become Mars’ top pitcher until last year, she has been in the circle since she was 10 years old. “That’s when I started pitching for the Pittsburgh Power, a traveling team,” said Rotz. “During my freshman year, I started to play in showcase tournaments all over the country. I faced very good competition.” Entering Tuesday’s game against Knoch, Rotz had 106 strikeouts this season. Her junior total stood at 111. “By the time I started pitching in high school, they had moved the circle back from 40 feet to 43 feet,” she said. “I learned to break my pitches a lot sooner and I’m comfortable at that distance now, which is good because that’s the distance in college.” Rotz also performs well with a bat in her hands, batting .411 with three home runs last year. Her current average is hovering near .400. She carries a 4.2 GPA and considered other schools, including George Mason and Shippensburg, but is not looking back after making her final decision. “I like the fact that I can play all year in Florida,” she said. “And it’s a great school for studying biology and medicine. Eventually, I want to be a doctor.” Nova Southeastern is led by veteran coach Lesa Bonee, who has surpassed 500 wins at the school. The Sharks are in the midst of a 25-26 season while competing in the Sunshine State Conference. During her freshman and sophomore seasons at Mars, Rotz played a lot at third base. That experience could come in handy with the Sharks. “I will have the opportunity to either pitch or play third base my freshman year, but I have to prove myself,” said Rotz.