The story of Bailey McCachren’s junior season, when she catapulted from an intriguing lefty to one of the most dominant pitchers in the state, isn’t one of a single epiphany.
It’s more about multiple incremental improvements becoming something more significant when they’re together. McCachren started doing more strength workouts, and her pitches started gaining some extra zip. And the riseball, a pitch she only started throwing seriously her sophomore year, became a lethal offering as McCachren learned how to better apply the requisite backspin and spot the pitch where hitters couldn’t reach it.
“It looks like a strike, and then it goes out,” McCachren said. “So (the key is) getting them to swing at the ball.”
Hearing that remark, Makenna Segal, the South sophomore star and one of McCachren’s best friends, chimed in from across the room:
“And it gets me every time!”
Segal certainly wasn’t the only one. McCachren racked up whiffs and outs at a startling rate throughout the year, compiling 142 in 98 innings and finishing with a 1.57 ERA. She showed off stellar control, allowing just 21 walks on the year, and when she got ahead of hitters, they rarely had a chance.
It was a great year outside of the circle as well for McCachren, who hit .306 for the Bulldogs, who finished 6-4 in region play and got a No. 3 seed for the state playoffs. And while one of her favorite moments from the year came at the plate – McCachren hit the walk-off home run that gave Central a win over West Forsyth in the region tournament – she can’t say it was the single best.
Getting to know...
Favorite social media platform:
Favorite non-social media app:
Bagel with peanut butter
Main sport of choice, if not softball:
Favorite school subject:
Go-to Netflix show:
Parks & Recreation
“Honestly, I loved every moment,” McCachren said. “I wouldn’t say there’s one. Just being on the field with all my teammates just makes it a great day in general.”
McCachren’s improvement over the past year didn’t just pay off in the high school ranks, either. She had committed to Campbell, a mid-major program, following her sophomore year, but a new NCAA rule instituted afterwards limited the contact she could have with college coaches.
When a new coaching staff came into Campbell, McCachren just wasn’t on their radars. But that was okay, because Tennessee, which finished 48-14 and 14-10 in the SEC last season, saw her over the summer at a showcase and started the recruitment process. McCachren took a visit and loved the players, coaches and campus, and she committed during the season.
McCachren figures to increase her dominance and rack up even more whiffs as a senior. But if she doesn’t, that’s okay, too, as long as she gets the outs.
“I just go out there and throw,” McCachren said. “And I can trust my defense, so whether I strike them out or not, I know I can do my job.”