Posted: 6:31 pm Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
By Jeff Greer
Taylor Schwarz and Shelby Turnier became so synonymous with one another during their high school careers, it’s almost impossible to imagine them wearing different jerseys.
Friends at age 8, the Palm Beach Gardens alumni played travel and school ball together for some nine years before Schwarz broke off to play for a different travel team. They won two state titles together at Palm Beach Gardens, and were close off the field. On Wednesday night, Schwarz will start at first base for Florida, and her old friend Turnier will wear a UCF home jersey. For only the second time in their entire softball careers, they’ll be opponents.
“It was weird,” Turnier said of the only other time she and Schwarz played against each other. “I’d rather play with (her) than against her.”
The friends briefly chatted last week, but Wednesday’s game won’t be as awkward as it might be in the future: Turnier doesn’t think she’ll pitch for UCF. That’ll at least save her some head-to-head battles against Schwarz, who stepped right in to start at first base for the third-ranked Gators.
Turnier’s pitched plenty for UCF, compiling a 10-7 record and 2.49 earned-run average in 23 appearances for the Knights. She leads UCF in wins, ERA and opponents’ batting average, and splits time with sophomore ace Mackenzie Audas and Dwyer grad Mackenzie Huhn. Turnier said Tuesday she might get some playing time as a batter or fielder, but doesn’t expect to pitch at all.
Schwarz, known for her power hitting and consistent fielding when she was in high school, has started 28 games and appeared in seven others for Florida, batting .273 with four home runs, a double, three stolen bases and 18 RBIs. She has a perfect fielding percentage.
“I don’t think we’re making a big deal,” Schwarz said. “It’s always fun playing against other Florida teams.”
Both players were key members of the Gators’ 2010 and 2011 state-title teams. Turnier was the game-winning pitcher in the 2011 championship game. Schwarz hit the game-winning home run.
“We can always look back and say we won two state titles,” Turnier said. “That’s something we’ll always have.”
Schwarz and Turnier helped Gardens reach the No. 1 ranking in the country in 2012 as Gardens seniors. When Schwarz committed to Florida, some wondered if she’d see the field at the highly competitive SEC program. When Turnier chose UCF, the same crew worried she may not pitch much with Audas already there.
Both have already made splashes at their new schools, and they both say they’ve learned loads of new softball info since arriving at college.
“I worked my butt off,” Schwarz said. “I worked really, really hard to get to do this … You just get thrown into everything. It’s just a completely different game. There are so many elements, but it’s crazy to think about how everything’s come together.”