A former two-way baseball standout for the Catamounts, Taylor Sandefur returned home to Western Carolina University as an assistant coach baseball coach during mid-July of 2018. He joined the Catamount coaching staff after serving as an assistant coach at NCAA Division II-member, Erskine College in Due West, S.C., last season.
Sandefur was the top assistant for the Erskine baseball program in 2018 where he also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator and also managed the pitching staffs for both the varsity and junior varsity teams. The Flying Fleet finished the year above .500 at 26-25 that included a 22-8 home record and an 11-12 mark in the Conference Carolinas. Collectively, the pitching staff featured an ERA of 5.36 on the season, averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings and finishing the year with 458 strikeouts – the second-most in school history.
Sandefur began his collegiate coaching career at mountain-rival, Appalachian State, spending two seasons as the volunteer assistant coach on staff in Boone, N.C., in 2015 and 2016 as the Mountaineers made the transition to the Sun Belt Conference. He primarily worked with the ASU catchers in the field and base running as it related to the squad’s offense. Over two seasons, the Apps compiled a .696 stolen base percentage including .804-percent in 2015.
After two years at Appalachian State, Sandefur spent the 2017 season as a top assistant coach at NAIA-member, St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C. While at St. Andrews, he was responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the baseball program, in addition to being in charge of the team’s strength and conditioning, game day preparations, and camps coordinator.
Sandefur was a four-year letter winner for the Catamount baseball team, beginning his career as the Friday night starting pitcher as a freshman. However, shoulder injuries forced him from the mound and into the batter’s box where he finished his collegiate career. He was a part of back-to-back Southern Conference regular season championship squads in 2013 and 2014 at Western Carolina.
A hard-throwing right-hander, Sandefur struck out 71 batters in three seasons on the mound including a career-best 40 Ks as a sophomore in 2011, finishing the year at the backend of the bullpen as the closer. Following his freshman season, Sandefur garnered the Valley League’s top pitcher honors during the summer of 2010 with the Waynesboro (Va.) Generals after posting a 7-0 record and 2.26 ERA, listed as one of the Valley’s top prospects. The following summer, Sandefur earned a spot with the Falmouth (Mass.) Commodores of the prestigious Cape Cod League in the summer of 2011.
Over three seasons on the mound for WCU, Sandefur made 38 career appearances including 19 starts, though the injuries forced him to miss the 2012 season and limited him to just 13.2 innings of work as a redshirt junior in 2013.
Entering his senior season in Cullowhee – and with his pitching days behind him – Sandefur picked up a bat and made the transformation to designated hitter as a fifth-year senior in 2014. Voted a team captain by his peers, he batted .310 collectively on the year with five doubles and a home run, tallying 13 RBI in just 84 at-bats. Despite the limited playing time, he was named second-team All-State by the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) and was one of 80 players on the initial watch list for the 2014 Gregg Olson Breakout Player of the Year Award.
Sandefur got his start in coaching following his final season as a collegian, joining the staff of the Valley League’s Aldie (Va.) Senators as the pitching coach which later parlayed to his two-year stint at Appalachian State. He also coached at the Dirty 30 Showcase in Cary, N.C., for three summers between 2014-17.
A product of Mechanicsville, Va., Sandefur was a three-time all-district selection and was a four-time all-academic honoree during his prep career at Atlee High. He graduated from Western Carolina in May of 2014 with a B.S. in communication.
Sandefur was married to former WCU cheerleader and assistant cheerleading coach, the former Kourtney Kirby, on Dec. 30, 2017.