Athlete of the Week: Bailey Bennington, West Greene
Name: Bailey Bennington
School: West Greene
Bennington’s week: Bennington was 11 for 14 with six doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBI during wins over Clay-Battelle (W.Va.), Mapletown, California and Jefferson-Morgan.
As a pitcher, she was 3-0 with 27 strikeouts.
“I surprised myself probably more than anyone,” Bennington said. “I’ve worked so hard the past couple months with pitching to make sure I’m pitching well. This week, I’m more proud of myself than probably anyone.”
Freshman pressure: Bennington realizes that most players her age are typically watching from the bench. And she’s not about to relinquish her starting spot.
“Since I’m a freshman, I know there’s a bunch of pressure on me,” Bennington said. “And I feel like the better I do, the more the pressure builds.
“I have to step up my game, so I can play with these girls.”
Power, at a cost: Bennington, who’s batting .618 with a 1.147 slugging percentage, swings so hard that she has dented three bats this season, rendering them unusuable.
“She swings the bat,” West Greene coach Bill Simms said. “She has tremendous bat speed.”
Bennington estimated that she has broken eight bats during her softball career.
“I really don’t know why,” Bennington said. “I guess my swing is just hard.”
In the genes: Bennington’s father, Dude, wrestled for West Greene and helped the Pioneers win a WPIAL Class AA title in 1994.
Ask Simms, and it’s not hard to tell that Bailey was raised by a fellow athlete.
“He has instilled in her a competitive nature, ever since she was a little girl, and provided her with every opportunity to be successful as a softball kid,” Simms said. “I just get a refined product in her. It isn’t like I’ve done anything to make her a true softball player.”
Looking ahead: As successful as she’s been in the circle, it’s likely that Bennington will project as a hitter at the next level. That, coupled with an influx of talent at the middle school level, has Simms thinking about moving Bennington around to different positions.
“It’s not too hard to pencil her in the lineup, whether it’s the pitching spot, shortstop or first base,” Simms said. “Your hand will never go wrong writing Bailey Bennington’s name in the lineup.”
The rematch: Bennington’s Pioneers (5-3, 8-3) pushed Carmichaels to the limit Monday before losing, 1-0, in eight innings. Bennington, who has 93 strikeouts in 59 innings, fanned 15 and allowed only four hits, ramping up the anticipation for the April 22 rematch in Rogersville.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Bennington said. “That’s one of my main goals (to beat Carmichaels). My first goal was to beat Jefferson. Then after how we played against Carmichaels … I honestly believe that we could have won that game, but things just didn’t go our way.”
– Compiled by Jason Mackey