Taty Forbes gets rattled when speaking formally, but the same can’t be said when she steps into the batter’s box.
It’s at the plate that Forbes speaks volumes, hitting for an impressive .479 average and earning Freshman of the Year honors in the Coastal Carolina softball program’s final season as a member of the Big South last year.
The sophomore outfielder was just recently named one of 50 athletes on the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award Watch List, and Chanticleers head coach Kelley Green believes Forbes can continue the torrid pace this year as the new leadoff hitter when the team’s first season in the Sun Belt Conference begins Friday with a home meeting against No. 7-ranked Alabama.
“It’s really a great honor and great recognition. She earned that, but it’s nice to see the respect from the voters to put her on there. She just had a phenomenal year last year. Certainly we’re hoping for similar numbers, but those are pretty good numbers,” Green said with a chuckle.
“But she’s capable of doing it. This year, she’s swinging away more so she’s a true triple threat right now. She moves into the leadoff spot this year and it will be a tall order for her, but she’s ready. She’s ready to take charge and be the spark of our offense for sure.”
And it’s tough to think Forbes – who now owns a full-ride scholarship – was a walk-on for the Chants as she began her journey last year far from her home in Redmond, Washington.
It didn’t take long for her to catch on as she started 58 of the Chants’ 59 games last season, and Forbes had a .512 slugging percentage and .484 on-base percentage as she pounded out 104 hits, 22 RBIs and scored 58 runs.
“Coming in as a freshman, it was a little difficult at first,” Forbes said. “There were big roles to fill as an outfielder but I came in and filled those shoes quickly. I realized I could help the team more than I thought.”
As for why she chose to come to Coastal Carolina over some programs that would have given her a scholarship right away?
“I’ve always wanted to go on an adventure, and being from Washington it’s obviously far away. I liked the location, it’s near the beach. I knew some people here and I heard more about the school, and took my chances coming here,” Forbes said. “I played on the nationally-ranked Washington Lady Hawks, and they have a crazy good recruiting program. Pretty much all my teammates were going to top schools. Obviously I wanted to go a lot further from home, and there were a lot of choices but I like where I ended up.”
With massive potential, Green wanted Forbes to start expanding her game and said she can hit to the opposite field much better. And the biggest thing is she’s starting to hit with more power as Forbes is still looking for her first collegiate home run.
“We have been really pleased with the way she’s hitting away, and now she can hit away with some power. She always wants to learn something to new and add something to her game, and that’s where hitting away comes into play,” Green said. “She had a great freshman year, but she feels she can always do better. She says, ‘We never achieve excellence, we’re always striving towards it,’ and that’s a great attitude to have.”
Forbes helped lead the Chants to 11 straight wins and a 20-5 record in their final 25 games of the regular season. Coastal Carolina finished 37-22 overall and 18-6 in Big South play before falling to Longwood in the Big South Championships.
The Chants were selected to finish eighth in the Sun Belt Conference’s annual preseason poll, but Forbes said she and her teammates had a strong fall season and will look to start off the year strong.
“We’re going into a new, tougher conference and I have high hopes but still have respect for the teams,” said Forbes, who swiped 18 bases in 18 attempts last season. “I think our freshman coming in can play a magnificent role like a couple of us did last year. A couple of them are starting a doing what they need to do, so that’s good. I feel like we have a crazy good chemistry; we’re super close and all best friends. We’re always with each other, and I think that will only help us out on the field.”
If at all possible, Forbes said she hopes to be more consistent this season while using the same approach that’s allowed her to find success in the past.
“I just don’t think a lot while I’m on the field, I just do it. My whole life, I’ve had coaches and people tell me what to think out there, but I just feel comfortable doing my own thing and blocking everything out and just playing,” Forbes said. “I just don’t think of anything, sometimes I just sing a song in my head. And I’m really confident – that helps.”