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Fitch prepared Wolfgang well for her recently completed career at Bucknell

Taylor Wolfgang has a loaded plate as her college career winds down.

Along with studying for final exams in her last semester at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., she is also preparing for the next journey in her life.

Wolfgang has already completed her job search and landed a position as a scientist at Boehringer Ingelheim in Ridgefield. Now she's searching for an apartment.

It's nothing that Wolfgang, a Fitch High School graduate and former three-time all-state catcher, can't handle.

Wolfgang feels better equipped to deal with whatever lies ahead because she learned how to handle adversity during her stellar softball career. She's fought through injuries, adjusted to numerous coaching changes, and suffered the heartbreak of losing a good chunk of her junior season due the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Not what I expected signing my freshman year, but I feel like all the challenges that I've gone through have made me a better person for it," Wolfgang said during a phone conversation on Thursday.

She knew during her recruiting visit that Bucknell would be a great home for her. She loves everything about the school.

She wouldn't trade her experience for anything.

"It's been great," Wolfgang said. "I stick to what I said on day one, choosing to come to Bucknell was probably one of the best choices that I could have made in my entire life. The academics are fantastic. The people that the school surrounds you with, they're like no other. I've made so many different friends and these teams have given me four different families throughout my time here, which has been amazing.

"Just being able to play at the Division I level and compete in the sport that I love and I've grown up playing, it's something that I never took for granted and never will take for granted."

Wolfgang excelled on the softball field and in the classroom all four years.

She earned All-Patriot League first team honors this season for the first time, serving as a catcher, first baseman and designated hitter and hitting .284 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 30 games. She finished her career among the program's leaders in walks (second), home runs (fourth), RBI (fifth) and doubles (seventh) despite having her junior and senior seasons shortened due to COVID-19. She gives a lot of credit to Matt Burns, her hitting coach, for helping her develop as a player and person.

She's been a two-time member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll and participated in Bucknell's Roundtable team that focused on developing student-athlete leadership skills.

"I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve," Wolfgang said. "I'm always hard on myself and I wish I could have achieved a little bit more. Definitely not making the (Patriot League) tournament this year really stung a lot. Sometimes the cards just don't fall your way and that's just life.

"But I'm definitely happy with what I've been able to bring to this program. You can look at the stats, but the thing that I'm most proud of is how much I was able to be a leader on this team. I really pride myself in being the one that people could come to if they needed motivation, if they just needed someone to talk to, if they needed a friend."

Wolfgang says she first developed her leadership skills at Fitch, where she helped the Falcons win two state championships and post a 99-9 record over her four seasons.

As a freshman, Wolfgang learned a great deal from being part of a young team that won a state title.

"I saw how much of an impact I had on my team and on the field," Wolfgang said. "Just from there is when I really started to see some personal growth and really tried to keep in my mind who I wanted to be in the future and just to try to keep working at that every single day.

"So, I definitely do think it started when I was at Fitch, but it continued to grow and blossom at Bucknell."

Her playing career ended abruptly and in unexpected fashion.

Bucknell, which already had fallen short of qualifying for the Patriot League tournament, was playing Colgate in a doubleheader in the regular season finale on Sunday when a Bison outfielder broke her leg chasing down a fly ball in the first game.

After a long delay, Bucknell decided not to finish the doubleheader, as the season and Wolfgang's career ended with a 0-0 scoreless tie.

"Of course, we had to go out that way," Wolfgang said of the senior class. "With what we've gone through, it just makes sense. Obviously, it's definitely not the storybook ending we wanted, but it was a great journey. You can't write out your endings and you can't plan for things to go how you want them to go. It's just life."

Some important life events await Wolfgang.

She will graduate from Bucknell on May 23. She majored in cell biology/biochemistry.

Her first post-college job starts on June 14. Living in Ridgefield, she'll be about a two-hour drive from home in Groton.

"Family is really big to me," Wolfgang said. "Living in Groton, all my family lives within 15 of 20 minutes of me on my mom and dad's side. I definitely wanted to stay closer to them. My parents know that at some point I had to leave the nest. They know they did an amazing job raising me and they trust when I do go out in the real world, I'll be fine.

"That's really good having their support. ... I know my family wants me closer. Even though it's just two hours and I'm moving across the state, to them, it seems like I'm moving across the country. On weekends, I still can go home and see my parents."

g.keefe@theday.com

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