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Grambling star shows poise at Dawson Classic

Reigning SWAC, HBCU Player of Year maintains even keel despite slow start
Special to MLB.com

It is no easy feat for a player to repeat as the Southwestern Athletic Conference's Player and Hitter of the Year and the HBCU (historically black college and universities) Player of the Year, yet that's what Grambling shortstop Marshawn Taylor is trying to do. He was also named the 2018 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year after hitting .402 with 12 doubles and 38 RBIs in 204 plate appearances in 2017.

Taylor, who said he isn't focused on matching his lofty numbers from a year ago, has a hit, three walks and an RBI in 10 plate appearances through the first two games of the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans.

It is no easy feat for a player to repeat as the Southwestern Athletic Conference's Player and Hitter of the Year and the HBCU (historically black college and universities) Player of the Year, yet that's what Grambling shortstop Marshawn Taylor is trying to do. He was also named the 2018 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year after hitting .402 with 12 doubles and 38 RBIs in 204 plate appearances in 2017.

Taylor, who said he isn't focused on matching his lofty numbers from a year ago, has a hit, three walks and an RBI in 10 plate appearances through the first two games of the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans.

Andre Dawson Classic coverage

The redshirt senior didn't have his best game Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He misjudged a line drive in the top of the ninth that allowed the eventual go-ahead run to get on base, then grounded out to end Grambling State's 5-4 loss.

"It's the game of baseball. That's going to happen," said Taylor, one of the SWAC's top Major League prospects. "Whether it happened today or later in the season, it's going to happen regardless, and it's happened before. We are just going to build on that and keep it rolling."

Grambling State coach James Cooper said his team just needs to make the routine plays and not give opponents extra chances, which has hurt them in back-to-back one-run losses at the Classic. Cooper added that other players on the team need to step up in situations, but he also understands the impact on the team when his shortstop has an off night.

"I think on any team, when your best player isn't as sharp or makes a mistake or doesn't come through in certain situations, it really does something psychologically to the players who are not rated as high as he is rated," said Cooper.

But the seventh-year coach isn't concerned about Taylor, crediting Taylor's ability to make adjustments last season.

"In the second half of the [2017] season, [after pitchers] figured out he was a pretty good hitter, he was still able to bang out hits," Cooper said."

Does Taylor feel extra pressure after all the accolades he received last season?

"I've been the same all my life, playing the same game all my life. Nothing changed," said Taylor.

Taylor and the Tigers have a chance to bounce back Sunday when they take on Alcorn State at 4 p.m. ET. Alcorn State has won its previous two matchups in the Classic, beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 5-4, on Friday and Prairie View A&M, 8-4, on Saturday.

Brandon Adam is a contributor to MLB.com.