Baldwin softball players sign with colleges

Monday, November 13, 2017 | 5:39 PM

They have been playing softball on the same team since they were 5 years old.

Taylor Dadig is a senior shortstop and Carly Santillo is a senior catcher.

Both will be fourth-year starters for Baldwin next spring.

“Taylor and I have been best friends on and off the field for many years,” Santillo said. “She has always been and always will be someone I can count on. On the field, because we are so comfortable with each other, I know she will always be there at the bag tagging out the runners on steals.”

Dadig said she and Santillo have developed a unique bond while growing up together.

“I would say Carly and I are more like sisters than teammates,” Dadig said. “We have a special bond on and off the field from spending hours in the car together on the way to tournaments and having classes together.”

However, the twosome no longer will be teammates when they graduate from Baldwin next spring. Both signed a national letter of intent last week in a brief ceremony at the high school.

Dadig, 18, opted for George Mason, which is located in Fairfax, Va. and is a member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference. Dadig plans to pursue a degree in civil/infrastructure engineering in the honors college at GMU.

“I fell in love with the school my freshman year,” she said. “George Mason has a beautiful campus, and I liked every aspect of the school. There is a great engineering program there, and many opportunities being so close to the Washington D.C. area. I am excited that I get the opportunity to play softball while pursuing my degree.

“I will definitely miss playing alongside Carly because we have shared so many great experiences, but I am supportive of her goals and dreams and want the best for her and her future.”

Santillo, who will celebrate her 18th birthday in December, chose Pitt-Johnstown, a member of the NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Santillo plans to study for a dual-certification in special education and early childhood education.

“I picked Pitt-Johnstown because I was so comfortable as soon as I got there,” Santillo said. “The team, the coaches and the professors welcomed me to UPJ, and have been nothing but kind and helpful to me. The campus is perfect for me, as well, because I love its ‘woodsy' atmosphere.

“It is going to be very different playing on a team without Taylor, but I know she will be extremely successful, and I can't wait to see how much she accomplishes.”

Dadig and Santillo participated in the Greater Baldwin Whitehall Athletic Association youth program when they were 5 and 6 years old, and in a GBWAA fast-pitch program when they were 7 and 8.

They also have traveled around the country playing for Pittsburgh Spirit Gold softball teams the past 10 years, competing in tournaments in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia and Ohio; along with cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Virginia Beach, Chattanooga and Salisbury, Md.

“We have played against teams from all over the country and Canada,” Dadig said.

Both have enjoyed stellar high school softball careers.

Dadig, who lives in Baldwin Borough, has hit .485, .541 and .642 in her three varsity seasons, and collected her 100th career hit last spring. She has been named all-state once and all-section twice, and also has been a Tribune-Review Terrific 10 selection.

Santillo, a Baldwin Township resident, has been voted all-section twice, and has a career fielding percentage of 1.000 (on 250 chances). Offensively, she has posted .400, .362 and .489 batting averages.

Santillo and Dadig have helped lead Baldwin to three consecutive section titles and three WPIAL semifinal-round berths. The Highlanders advanced to the WPIAL finals and PIAA first round in 2016.

Baldwin has finished with identical 10-2 section records and 13-5 overall marks in each of the past three years, and has won 35 of 44 regular-season games in that span.

“It is very early, but I have very high expectations for Baldwin softball this year,” Santillo said. “We have a lot of experienced players that are extremely focused. We have started workouts with Ed Wietholder, our strength and speed coach, and many girls have been showing up and working hard.

“I am very excited to play this year after all of our successes the past three years. I can't wait to see what we can accomplish my senior year.”

Santillo owns a 4.0 grade-point average, and is a member of the National Honor Society, Special Olympics Club and Highlander Choir. She also is a Miracle League volunteer.

Dadig has a 4.4 GPA, and is a member of the National Honor Society, Westinghouse Science Honors Institute, Special Olympics Club, Math League and gifted program.

“I think we have high expectations for ourselves this season, and are working hard in the offseason to prepare,” Dadig said. “While the weather was nice, we had some fall practices. Currently, we are in the weight room twice a week and are looking to start winter workouts soon.”

Dadig also was a Wendy's High School Heisman nominee this year.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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