Tariq Talley arrived at Towson High after transferring from Archbishop Curley during his freshman year and made an immediate impression on Towson baseball coach Shawn Tormey, despite a late arrival.
“I had just missed the tryouts for baseball season and I went up to the coach and basically asked him, ‘Can I get a chance?’ And he gave me one game to play and in my first at-bat I hit a double off the wall, and he said I was on the team,” Talley said.
Four years later, Talley proved his coach made the right call as he earned a slew of accolades during the 2022 baseball season.
Talley, who also played varsity basketball, has been named the 2022 Towson Times Male Athlete of the Year.
Talley was named Baltimore County Player of the Year after he batted .516, with a .590 on-base percentage and .968 slugging percentage, while scoring 19 runs and driving in 23.
The All-county first team and All-metro second team shortstop hit three home runs, including two against Loch Raven, and added four triples and 11 doubles.
“We had him since his freshman year and he’s a pretty special kid with the bat,” Tormey said. “He’s an offensive force.”
After helping Towson finish 19-3 and advance to the Class 3A state finals, where the Generals lost to Chesapeake, Talley played in the MSABC Brooks Robinson Senior All-Star game at Camden Yards along with teammate Chase Supensky.
Talley also played in the Exposure Sports All-Star game at Harford Community College.
“At the beginning of the season I was just excited to have a full season and just go out there and play ball,” Talley said. “Obviously, the accolades are nice and they sound good but I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could and help my team win and we came very, very close.”
His rise to stardom included missing the entire 2020 season because COVID canceled the sports season and he played a shortened season during his junior year.
“Maybe if we would have had a full season last year, people would have recognized this kid is going to be a heck of a ballplayer,” Tormey said.
Talley used the pandemic to hone his skills and his body.
“I’m very concerned about my body and I watch what I put in it and take care of it,” he said. “When COVID hit, it was a mental game because if you didn’t do anything, you knew there were people out there who were doing something to try and get better than you. So I turned my basement into a gym and just started working out there two times a day and I would go to one of my trainers and work out and hit there.”
One of his trainers was former Towson University catcher Tristan Howerton.
“I worked out with him going into summer ball and I feel like he just definitely helped me feel my swing instead of trying to replicate somebody else’s and it just started to work,” Talley said. “After that it was just me on my own just finding what I needed to tweek, putting the camera up, slowing it down and seeing what I needed to change. Baseball is a game of feel so see what feels right.”
He also played summer ball for the Virginia Dirtbags and he traveled to tournaments in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Alabama.
Tormey knew his bat was above average, but his glove proved to be just as strong.
“I’ve always known he’s an athletic kid, but going into this year I wouldn’t have said he would be an exceptional defensive shortstop and this year he provided us with exceptional defense,” Tormey said. “That is the part that surprised me is that I could just put his name in the lineup, put him at short and he gave us solid defense and that kind of spreads out to the rest of the team.”
Although he has not committed to a college, he has interest from Harford Community College, UMES, University of South Alabama, University of Queens Charlotte and Cerro Coso Junior College in California.
Tormey has no doubt he will make an impact wherever he plays.
“The kid is going to be a big-time bat in college wherever he ends up,” Tormey said. “Towson is a good school and his grades were phenomenal, mostly As and Bs and he’s a great kid, a fantastic kid who was a team leader, the kids gravitated toward him and he was just everything you want to be in your best ballplayer.”
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Talley, who was a pitcher when he first started playing baseball because of his strong arm, pitched limited innings for the Generals, but he also led the team with 16 stolen bases.
He runs a 6.3 60-yard dash and could possibly play center field or shortstop in college.
Before high school, Talley played football, soccer and basketball, but baseball and basketball were his main sports at Towson.
On the basketball court, where the Generals went 6-12, Talley provided a defensive lift.
“I was a defensive specialist. I could get a bucket every once in a while and I just tried to keep the team together,” he said. “We had a lot of obstacles this year with our head coach having a stroke and that kind of put us back a little bit.”
James Mitchell, the head coach of the Towson JV who also helped with the varsity, was impressed by his defensive motor.
“Defense, defense, hustle, he would come in and bring the energy,” said Mitchell, who will be the new Towson varsity coach next year. “He would start out with the energy if he started the game or he would come in and bring the energy. He was the best defensive player on the team.”