West Forsyth softball coach Justin Rickett had finally relented – the Lady Wolverines’ game day uniforms were going to include white pants.
The next question was practical – how soon would a West player get her pristine white pants dirty?
Bailley Concatto answered that just a few minutes into the Lady Wolverines’ first practice with the new unis on a dive for a groundball.
"I dive pretty much whenever I can to get to whatever ball I can," Concatto said. "I try to get every ball I possibly can. …. I feel it goes with my personality, I guess."
That’s West’s sophomore shortstop. The one who creates her own words in Latin ("Gular," verb: the act of Guloing). Or quotes comedian Kevin Hart. Or sings "Leave the Night On," by Sam Hunt. Or always has a story to tell at practice about her day.
Aside from the comedic relief she brings, Concatto has stabilized West’s infield this season and been one of the team’s most consistent hitters as the Lady Wolverines entered Tuesday’s game against North Forsyth at 12-11 overall and 8-6 in Region 6-AAAAAA, tied for third place with Northview.
West had a senior-sized hole to fill when shortstop Erica Davis graduated, so head coach Justin Rickett turned to Concatto. She started at second base as a freshman, though she had some experience at shortstop from playing on her travel softball team.
Concatto relished the transition.
"I just love playing shortstop," Concatto said. "The shortstop gets the most [groundballs]. They kind of take control of the infield. Maybe the pressure is on the shortstop a little bit, but I just like being in that position. …Shortstops are usually looked to as leaders, and I like to be in that position. I like to be a leader."
Then she had a swing to tweak.
"This year, I worked more on not placing the ball as much in hitting," Concatto said. "Last year, I kind of used slapping too much. I would try to place the ball here or there. This year, I’m just working on power, just hitting it where it’s pitched and running."
It’s worked. Concatto entered Tuesday night hitting .437 (31-for-71) with 24 runs scored, 15 RBI and 10 stolen bases with just six strikeouts. She’s had a hit in 19 of 22 games she’s played and reached base safely in 21 of 22 games. The highlight: a 4-for-4 game against state power Collins Hill with a double and three runs scored.
"I hit slumps obviously like everyone else does," Concatto said, "but I feel like it’s been a pretty steady season so far. I always feel like my defensive skills would come in handy more than my offensive skills. Defense is what I bring to the table, but I feel like everything’s pretty good right now."
Indeed, the Lady Wolverines had won two straight entering Tuesday, including an 11-7 win against Northview to sweep the season series against the Lady Titans and earn any tiebreaker should the teams finish tied in the region standings.
Because, Concatto said, West has eyes on the state playoffs a year after losing in the first round for the second straight season.
"We just have to come together as a team," Concatto said. "We all love each other. We’re a team. We’re a family. And I feel like we just have to play like that on the field in order for everything to come together."