The morning of Wednesday, May 29, 2013, featured a whirlwind of activity for Tatum Edwards and her Husker softball teammates. After arriving in Oklahoma City the previous night, the Huskers met with the media for more than an hour, posed for various photo and video shoots and had two separate one-hour practices in preparation for the 37th annual Women’s College World Series.
By 1 p.m., Nebraska’s morning wound down with the team’s post-practice meeting beyond the right field fence of ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. While the flurry of activity was winding down, a whirlwind of emotions were about to be released by Edwards. The team huddle may have marked the end of a busy morning for the Huskers but for Edwards, the news she was about to receive would mark the culmination of a lifetime of work.
Surrounded by her 15 teammates – including her twin sister Taylor – Tatum listened attentively as Head Coach Rhonda Revelle declared she had one final announcement to make. Revelle then spoke to Tatum directly and shared the news that later in the day, she would be announced as a second-team All-American. Upon hearing the news, Tatum embraced her sister Taylor and broke into tears, sharing a private moment that only twins can truly appreciate before the heart-felt congratulations rolled in from her teammates.
“When I was told that I was an All-American, I immediately broke down into tears. I have never felt a rush of emotions come over me so quickly before,” Tatum said. “I couldn’t believe that my name was amongst the other amazing players in the game. The hard work and dedication that I put myself through the entire season was in that moment the most appreciated thing I had ever done.
“I was overfilled with joy that I could share that moment with my team, but the most important person to share that with was Taylor. It was awesome.”
It was no accident that Tatum got to share in that moment with Taylor and the rest of her teammates. Revelle makes it a point to get to know her players personally as part of creating a family environment, and she knew Tatum would want to share her honor with her teammates.
“I wanted to tell her before it was announced because that’s usually a pretty overwhelming feeling when someone finds out they’ve received that honor,” Revelle said. “She has been such a team player, Lori (Sippel) and I felt like she would want to share that moment with her teammates and her sister. I think our instincts were pretty right on given the reaction from the entire team and from Tatum.
“I think Taylor’s reaction was the one that stood out the most. It seems like (Taylor) puts other people first a lot and that was a situation that she showed so much emotion that she was maybe more excited for Tatum than Tatum was for herself. I think that came as her twin but also as her catcher, knowing how hard Tatum worked to get to that point.”
That special moment was years in the making, a journey shared by two twins who grew up in a softball family.
Family Journey to Nebraska
As youngsters growing up in Southern California, softball was a big deal for Tatum, the elder of the Edwards twins by 70 seconds. Brian Edwards, the twins’ father, was a star on the competitive slow-pitch softball circuit. His team, the Mavericks, won seven world championships and Brian was named MVP on one of those teams, in addition to earning three spots on the all-tournament team.
“My dad definitely had an impact on me when I started playing,” Tatum said. “I remember going to his softball games and watching him play, and I wanted to be just like him.”
Her journey to becoming her own softball star started young and with her family in mind.
“I started playing softball when I was four years old,” she said. “I started playing because I loved it and it was always fun. Having Taylor on each team with me made it even more fun. My dad coached our teams growing up, so that was another reason why I wanted to play softball.”
Softball always united the Edwards family. When the twins played, it was a family affair. Brian was in the dugout coaching his daughters, while older brother Tyler was one of the most recognizable faces in the crowd with his constant cheering. The twins’ mom, Denise, also offered unconditional love and support from the stands alongside Tristen, the youngest of the four Edwards kids who is now a high school softball player.
Coming from such a close-knit family made the twins search for a family atmosphere during their recruitment, and they found exactly what they were looking for at Nebraska.
“My first memory of recruiting was getting a handwritten letter from Nebraska,” Tatum said. “Coach Revelle had examined her interest in Taylor and I, and she wanted to get to know us as people a little bit better. I considered Nebraska when I started to see the excitement and drive that the coaches had in getting to know Taylor and I.”
From that initial letter, to countless phone calls between the coaches and herself, Tatum felt she had found her second family in Lincoln.
“I trust my coaches with anything,” she said. “It’s amazing to be able to have so much trust in three people. I have three mother figures with my coaches.”
The support of Edwards’ family helped her earn a softball scholarship to Nebraska, and the support of her teammates and coaches have helped Edwards grow even more during her college career. Following graduation, Edwards plans to stay in Nebraska and become an elementary school teacher for Lincoln Public Schools.
She credits both her real family and her Husker softball family as the reasons she has developed into the person she is today.
“I knew that coming to Nebraska, I was going to grow up in an amazing place full of love and respect. Being able to compare myself as a person when I came here to who I am now….I couldn’t be more proud of the person I have become today.”
‘TNT’ Has Been Dynamite for Husker Softball
Who she is today is a returning All-American, the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and one of the top hitters in school history. She teams up with Taylor, a 2011 All-American, to give Nebraska an All-America pitcher and catcher, one of only two teams that can claim an All-America battery in 2014.
Tatum and Taylor have matching “TNT” tattoos on their wrists, standing for “Tatum and Taylor” while also playing off the power and explosiveness both players bring to the softball diamond. And “TNT” has certainly been dynamite for the Husker softball program.
The duo worked together to help lead Nebraska back to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in more than a decade in 2013. The twins are also the only Huskers to earn All-America honors in the last eight seasons, while Nebraska has averaged 40 wins in the twins’ first three seasons after NU averaged just 30 wins per season in the three years prior to their arrival.
Husker fans have become accustomed to seeing Tatum in the circle and Taylor behind the plate. But there was a time – albeit for just one inning – where Tatum did the catching and Taylor the pitching.
“My earliest softball memory was catching Taylor in the only inning she ever pitched,” Tatum said. “I got to catch her, and I remember sitting behind the plate in a squat laughing because it was so funny to see her doing what I always did.”
The twins quickly reverted back to their normal roles and the results have been dynamic. Taylor knows exactly when and how to calm Tatum down in the circle and when the twins call their own pitches, sometimes Taylor doesn’t even have to put down a sign because the two are so in sync.
With Taylor behind the plate for every pitch of her 2013 season, Tatum compiled a 30-10 record with a 1.91 ERA in 253.1 innings. She ranked 11th nationally in shutouts (10) and 12th in victories en route to becoming Nebraska’s first Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and the program’s first first- or second-team All-American in nine seasons. Offensively, Tatum slugged 11 doubles and 11 home runs in only 140 at bats, joining Taylor as one of only six Huskers to produce 10 doubles and 10 home runs in the same season.
While having her sister has been a big benefit, Tatum also credits the Husker coaching staff for helping her develop into the player that she is today.
“All of the coaches have done such an awesome job at sticking with me through my toughest times,” she said. “Everything that I have been through, I have always had them by my side helping me to push past all the negatives and achieve what I always knew I could. They deserve all the recognition in the world because I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have them.”
As an All-American, one might think things have come easy for Edwards. But that hasn’t necessarily been the case, especially in the circle. Edwards threw only 130.0 innings in her first two years combined. She worked hard at her control and developing her pitches in order to earn more innings. Her work paid off with a terrific junior campaign and the right-hander has even bigger aspirations for her senior season.
“Our goal as a team this year is to win a national championship,” she said. “Every player on this team is striving to keep up the road that has been set for the years to come, and we have all the intention in the world to get back to the Women’s College World Series.”
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Tatum
1) She has really bad allergies, basically to anything.
2) She is double jointed in her shoulders.
3) She has a fear of cotton balls.