Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
SOUTH WEBSTER — Baylee Cox remembers the exact moment her life took a turn on a dime.
During a practice this past February, the South Webster senior was participating in a routine give-and-go layup drill. But when she cut through the paint and reached for an off-target pass, a “routine” drill became life-altering.
“It was the week that all the schools had closed for the flu and we were finally allowed to have a practice on the Sunday before we played at West,” Baylee said. “I was cutting through the paint and the pass was a little behind me. I turned to catch it and my foot was planted, but the rest of my body twisted sideways. When I hit the floor, the first words out of my mouth were ‘Oh my gosh, there went my ACL. I’m done.’ But because I had a complete rupture, it was like the sharpest pain I’ve ever felt for about 10 seconds and then nothing at all. So we were hopeful that I may have just hyperextended it. Sadly, that was not the case.”
Baylee’s gut feeling was unfortunately spot on.
Her ACL had suffered a complete tear, an injury that some athletes are never able to recover from.
In a matter of seconds, Baylee’s basketball season had come to an abrupt halt while her senior softball season never had the chance to begin.
Now, we know that there isn’t a senior in Ohio that will have the chance to play their senior softball season because of COVID-19. While that’s softened the initial blow for Baylee, she’s still not able to fully accept that fact.
“It was definitely hard accepting that I had already played my last games before my senior season had even started,” Baylee said. “But, I guess now every senior is struggling with knowing their high school careers are over and it has definitely been something that I do not want to accept yet.”
If Baylee had gotten the chance to get on the diamond this spring, there were only good things to come.
Last year, while the Jeeps finished 16-11 overall, Baylee hit .382 with six doubles, 15 runs scored and 26 RBIs. Those numbers helped her team win a Division IV sectional title with a 14-0 victory over Trimble, a game where she was 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs.
“I would say that my proudest accomplishment of my four seasons was winning the first sectional title for South Webster’s softball program in a long while,” she said.
Now, as she realizes a senior year won’t end the way she thought, she’s simply focused on getting back to normal-ish … on the diamond and in life in general.
That, of course, includes rehabilitating her ACL.
“I honestly love rehab. Everyone at Tri-State Rehab is really dedicated to getting me back to where I need to be and I’m really grateful that I am surrounded by so many wonderful people who are supporting me through this healing process,” Baylee said. “It is hard work but I really enjoy it and knowing that when I’m done, I’m going to be faster and stronger than before, that’s enough motivation to push me into next season.”
Next season, she hopes to be better than she’s ever been. If that’s to happen, it’ll be at the collegiate level. This past March, Baylee signed to play softball at Marietta College.
Before they were forced to sideline their own season this spring, the Pioneers were 7-3 overall and had won four straight.
“I chose Marietta because I knew I wanted to go a little ways from home but not too far. It’s about two hours away, so if something happened, it wouldn’t be too hard to come home,” Baylee said. “Also, the coaching staff is great about checking on me and wanting to be a part of my rehab process. They’re really making me feel like one of them. I hope to do great things there and continue to play the sport I love and win some games.”
As she’s always had, she’ll have plenty of support when she becomes the newest name on Marietta’s roster.
And rest assured, with a tremendous amount of support in her corner, you’ll be reading her name on many future occurrences.
“My coaches, teammates, and family members have meant the world to me these last four years,” Baylee said. “Honestly, there’s no better group of people I could’ve been supported by through it all. No matter the circumstances, I always knew everyone was behind me in everything I did. There truly is no place like South Webster.”