BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Mt. Juliet High School standout Taylor Haydel will play his collegiate baseball at Western Kentucky University, Hilltoppers head coach Chris Finwood announced Wednesday morning. The 6-0 right-handed pitcher from Mt. Juliet, Tenn. signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) and will enter WKU as a freshman in the fall. Haydel is considered one of the most heavily recruited prospects ever to sign with WKU.
"We are very excited to add Taylor to our baseball program," said Finwood, the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. "He is an outstanding competitor and will fit right in with our winning tradition. Taylor will help us win a lot of games here over the next few years and we certainly want to welcome him and his family to our program."
A First-Team Class AAA All-State selection this past year, Haydel batted .352 with eight home runs, 46 RBI, and 40 runs scored. On the mound, the Wilson County Scholar-Athlete honoree was a perfect 11-0 with a minuscule 0.90 ERA, striking out 94 batters while walking just 21 in 77.0 innings of work. In helping lead Mount Juliet to the Tennessee State Championship game, Haydel held opponents to a .128 batting average against.
Among the hardware Haydel collected in his senior season, he was named the All-District and All-Region Most Valuable Player as well as First-Team All-Midstate. Guiding the Bears to the most successful season in the school's history, Haydel finished his high school pitching career with a perfect 14-0 mark.
Haydel chose WKU over Middle Tennessee, LSU, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.
WKU closed out an historic 2009 season with the program's first national ranking since 2001, tabbed 23rd in the latest release of the College Baseball Top 30 poll. WKU finished their record-setting season at 42-20 and came within two innings of advancing to the program's first-ever NCAA Super Regional.
In notching the program's first 40-win season in 21 years, and fifth overall, WKU posted a 21-8 mark in league play to earn a share of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Regular Season Championship, a first in the program's 26-year affiliation with the conference.
Earning the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, WKU went 3-2 in the Oxford Regional, equaling in three days what the program had accomplished in terms of number of postseason wins in the previous 89 years of Hilltopper baseball. WKU knocked off second-seeded Missouri twice as well as rallied for a remarkable 10-9 win over eighth-ranked Ole Miss to force a winner-take-all NCAA Regional Championship game.