Being great at softball did not come easy for sophomore Layne Bailey, but she was the chosen one.
It’s not as dramatic as movies make it seem like, but at a young age, Bailey’s coach pointed her out as a player with the ‘it’ factor.
“The coach pointed at me and said ‘I think this girl has it,’” Bailey said. “I had a brick wall outside of my house and I took duct tape and made an X on the wall and just started throwing and throwing.”
Bailey’s hard work paid off after being named the 2020 Region 7-3A Softball Freshman of the Year. Bailey led the Lady Tigers’ pitching staff with 59 innings pitched, 39 strikeouts and a 3.82 earned run average. At the plate, Bailey hit for a .327 batting average, with a home run and 18 runs batted in.
“I thought I did well,” Bailey said. “I was proud of myself. It’s a lot different from travel ball. I held my own on the plate and on the mound.”
Even though she plays for the No. 11 ranked travel softball team in her age group, Bailey still had normal concerns of any high school freshman on whether she was even going to make the varsity level team.
“At first, I was a little nervous,” Bailey said. “It’s a new coach, new environment. I didn’t know what he was going to expect out of me. It worried me because what if I wasn’t what he expected. But, it all worked out.”
Escaping from everyday struggles is what Bailey loves most about softball. Though she can experience anxiety and a lack of confidence while playing, Bailey said her biggest goal next season is to focus on her mental strength.
“Whatever the other team is saying I zone it out,” Bailey said. “I’m here with my catcher, throwing what I throw best. I want to be better than I was last season. I’d like to focus on being more confident in myself this season too. I want to work on my mental state. My goal by the end is to be a better player on the field physically and mentally.”
After finishing the season 7-15, longtime softball coach Jimmy Pruett retired and previous West Forsyth head coach Justin Rickett was hired as the new head softball coach.
“A new coach brings a new start for everyone,” Bailey said. “We’ve got some great talent in the younger classes. I know a few things will probably change but I think it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”
When she’s not on the field, Bailey has a soft spot for going shopping. She also loves to paint, play with her dog and says faith plays a huge role in her life. She prays before every start on the mound.
As next season approaches, Bailey said she hopes she can continue to impress the coaches in her region as they nominate her for more awards, which will hopefully catch the eyes of college coaches. Bailey said her dream would be to continue her softball career collegiately.
“When I get recognition, it pushes me to go forward,” Bailey said. “People realize that I’m working hard. It still helps me. If I’m having a bad game now, it reminds me that I can play at a high level.”