Bailey McCachren seemed to be at her best when the stage was brightest.
None brighter than Forsyth Central’s first-round playoff game against Parkview, when the Bulldogs’ senior pitched all 10 innings in a complete-game shutout, striking out 21 and giving up just three hits in a 1-0 extra-innings win.
Central lost the next two games, but McCachren’s performance that day signaled to Parkview that the Bulldogs would not be an easy out.
After all, Central wouldn’t have made it to that series if not for McCachren’s gutsy performance in the Region 5-7A tournament two weeks prior.
McCachren fought two opponents that day: Milton and an illness that nearly caused her to miss the game.
“I remember sitting at school all day doing nothing, then going to the game and just, honestly, just trying to make it through the game,” McCachren said. “I knew if we won that game, we were done, so I only had to play one game that day. So, it was more so just the mental aspect of the game, getting over the sickness and being able to play.”
McCachren responded with a seven-inning gem, striking out 13 and giving up just three hits while securing Central’s spot in the postseason.
McCachren pitched 109 2/3 innings this year, striking out 133 while sporting a 1.85 ERA and a 7-6 record.
She was one of the team’s leaders at the plate, too, finishing with 21 RBIs, six doubles and three home runs – all team highs. McCachren went 21 for 64 (.328) this year.
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McCachren will graduate in May, then enroll at the University of Tennessee.
“The biggest thing for me was when I walked on the campus. Team-wise, I love the moral of the team,” she said of her future school. “It’s a very family place. The coaches are big on making a good community and a foundation for the team, and I just love the whole atmosphere of the team and the campus and everything.”
Before then, McCachren will play one more season with travel ball teammate Makenna Segal.
Segal, the two-time Forsyth County News Player of the Year, got the better of McCachren during the season, socking a two-run home run off of McCachren during a 3-2 win.
McCachren said Segal is the toughest hitter in the county.
“I used to have an approach, but she’s become a lot more selective. Her pitch selection is a lot better,” McCachren said. “I used to be able to maybe get her on a rise first pitch, but I can’t really do that much more.
“When she comes up to the plate, it’s still I’m trying to get her out any way I can. Afterwards, if she gets a hit, or if I get her out, we’ll smile at each other, we’ll laugh, we’ll do something. In the moment I’m working for my team and I’m trying to get her out.”
McCachren worked to develop her changeup this season, adding another quality pitch to her already well-stocked arsenal.
“I’ve had my changeup for a while. It tends to get difficult,” McCachren said. “It took me, like, six months to learn how to throw it, because I have a very small hand, so my knuckles would not form to throw it. I’ve had it for a while, but it’s just developed very well recently.”
She’ll bring it with her to Knoxville, along with her mark of 407 strikeouts though the past three years with the Bulldogs, closing the book on one of the most storied softball careers in Forsyth County.