Taylor Bell loves softball so much that she's willing to drive four hours every Sunday this summer to play in a collegiate league in Cedar Rapids.
Bell, who lives 120 miles away in Madrid, has become the 29th player to join the new Iowa Women's Softball League. She'll have a two-hour drive each way to Cedar Rapids, but she's looking forward to the games.
Bell plans to redshirt this season as a fourth-year senior at Waldorf University in Forest City and then finish her collegiate career at Waldorf in 2018.
She thinks playing in the Iowa Women's Softball League against top-flight competition will help prepare her for her final year in college. Taylor Kurtz, one of her teammates at Waldorf who is from Mid-Prairie, told her about the league and encouraged her to get involved.
(CLICK HERE TO REGISTER)
"It sounds like fun and a good way to get ready for my final year at Waldorf," she said.
Bell began her college career at DMACC in 2014, when the Bears finished third at the junior college World Series. She transferred to Waldorf after her freshman year at DMACC and hit .252 last season.
Bell, a middle infielder and center fielder, was a five-year starter at Madrid High School and hit .437 as a senior in 2013. She earned all-conference and all-district honors in high school.
The Iowa Women's Softball League has been created by the Metro Sports Report to give college players an opportunity to play in a competitive summer league. It's the only program of its kind in Iowa and is gaining enrollment on a daily basis.
The league is open to anyone who is currently playing college softball in Iowa, as well as all Iowans who are competing at out-of-state schools.
The season will consist of 10 doubleheaders on Sunday afternoons, beginning on Sunday, May 28 and running through Sunday, July 30. All of the games will be played at Kirkwood Community College and Coe College in Cedar Rapids, beginning at 2 p.m. each day.
The goal is to have four teams with 16 players per team.
Here are the 29 players who have joined so far:
1. Erin Kuba, Indian Hills (CR Jefferson)
2. Peyton Baskerville, Mount Mercy (CR Kennedy)
3. Tianna Drahn, Northern Iowa (CR Kennedy)
4. Lexi Kinnaird, Kirkwood (Clear Creek Amana)
5. Maddy Ryan, Coe (Linn-Mar)
6. Mallory McArtor, Coe (Mid-Prairie)
7. Taylor Nearad, Kirkwood (Solon)
8. Bria Lenten, Loras (CR Washington)
9. Tawny Menster, Mount Mercy (Anamosa)
10. Maddie Hansen, Kirkwood (CR Jefferson)
11. Megan Bonnett, Luther (IC Regina)
12. Morgan Frost, Kirkwood (Don Bosco)
13. Taylor Kurtz, Waldorf (Mid-Prairie)
14. Haley Jones, Coe (Waterloo West)
15. Morgan Goedken, Wartburg (IC Regina)
16. Alyssa Wiebel, Illinois State (Benton)
17. Monika Bevans, Kirkwood (Solon)
18. Ali Herdliska, South Dakota State (Solon)
19. Erin Drahozal, Upper Iowa (Xavier)
20. Emily Ira, Western Illinois (Solon)
21. Sydney Robertson, DMACC (Vinton-Shellsburg)
22. Lexi Ferrari, Kirkwood (Alleman Catholic)
23. DoniRae Mayhew, Kirkwood (Bettendorf)
24. Morgan Christner, Illinois State (New London)
25. Paige Timmerman, Luther (CR Kennedy)
26. Megan Kublik, Kirkwood (Wilton)
27. Morgan Smith, Southeastern CC (Davenport North)
28. Gabi Carter, Indiana State (Kirkwood/CR Prairie)
29. Taylor Bell, Waldorf (Madrid)
Anyone interested in joining the league is strongly encouraged to register now and reserve a spot, even if they have not finalized their plans for this summer. The $100 player fee will be refunded if they are unable to play, with no questions asked.
The entire registration process can be handled on-line. Simply click on the link to the registration form that appears with this story.
The Metro Sports Report hopes all players will attend all of the games, but the company will certainly understand if a player needs to miss a few games due to a job commitment, family function, vacation or any other reason.
The league will use a continuous batting order with free defensive substitution, to make sure the playing time is as equal as possible for everyone.
Scholarships are available. All anyone has to do is ask.
The four gold medal sponsors for the Iowa Women's Softball League are Ironside Apparel, Construction Materials, Emil's Hideaway restaurant and the Barracudas AAU softball program. Play It Again Sports of Cedar Rapids is a silver medal sponsor.