“Small but mighty” might be the most fitting adage to describe Ohio State softball player Alex Bayne. Despite standing a mere 5-foot-5, the redshirt junior is currently leading her team in home runs and RBIs after three weekends of play.
“She’s a monster in the weight room,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.
Bayne, a Texas native, played her freshman year at Marshall University in West Virginia but said she did not find her fit in the team and culture. After visiting a friend at OSU, she fell in love with the community and decided to transfer.
“I saw the team was having open tryouts, and I was lucky enough for them to want me to come on,” Bayne said.
Schoenly already envisioned Bayne, who took a year off from playing in 2014, as a great addition to the team prior to tryouts.
“She pestered me over email for seven months, saying, ‘Coach, I want to try out for the team,’” Schoenly said. “After, she came into my office and had zero expectations. She was willing to do whatever we needed her to do.”
This conversation showed Schoenly the type of selfless player the outfielder was — and continues to be — as she steps into a larger leadership role this season.
“My close friends last year were the leaders, and I just followed in their footsteps and communicated with my coaches about what they and my team need out of me,” Bayne said.
Bayne, who studies strategic communication, was given the OSU Sportsmanship Award in 2015, in addition to being named a scholar-athlete. Because of her natural leadership skills, her teammates nominated her to be a captain despite having just a lone season donning the scarlet and gray.
Senior teammate Maddy McIntyre, who ultimately earned the captain role, indicated her enthusiasm about what Bayne continues to bring to the team.
“Bayne has kind of taken it to a new level this year. She’s really stepped up into a leadership role,” McIntyre said. “She’s just the embodiment of empathy and so mature beyond her years.”
Like McIntyre, Schoenly also described Bayne as lighthearted and commended her incessant dedication to the team.
“She’s never going to leave anybody out. She’s a part of every group on the team,” Schoenly said, mentioning how Bayne will offer to give teammates rides or help the pitchers out at any chance she gets.
Schoenly also recalled a game against Nebraska last season when Bayne’s commitment first started to show.
“I put her in to pinch hit and she hit a double. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to keep her in,’ and then she hit another double,” Schoenly said.
Within two weeks, Bayne had earned a starting position, and by the end of the season, she was hitting .375 with 17 RBIs.
“A few games after Nebraska, she hit two home runs against Ohio University,” Schoenly said. “Because of her commitment to the process, she was more than ready for the opportunity.”
Those two home runs were just the beginning of the slugger’s ascension to being one of the Buckeyes’ most dominant and consistent hitters. As she takes on a starting role, Bayne said she wants to focus on what her team needs rather than being only a big hitter.
“Hopefully, I can continue to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but I’m not trying to think too big,” Bayne said. “Just bat on ball.”
McIntyre laughed when asked what she expects from Bayne as the season moves forward.
“If she could hit three home runs every weekend, we would love that,” she joked.
Regardless of whether Bayne actually hits three home runs per weekend, she said she plans to keep supporting her teammates no matter what happens.
“I just want to be there for my team through the ups and downs of it all,” she said.
Bayne is planning to use her fifth year of eligibility on the diamond to attend OSU for graduate school, where she hopes to prepare for a career in either a communication program at a university or an athletics public relations firm.
To Schoenly, who praised her player’s outlook on life, Bayne is the precedent for the younger players when it comes to making the most out of any opportunity.
“She has this ‘I’m not taking anything for granted’ attitude,” Schoenly said. “She is really competitive, though.”
Right now, Bayne’s competitive edge is the epicenter of the Buckeyes’ dynamic start to the season. The Scarlet and Gray are 9-4 with a chance to bolster that mark during a four-game stint in Tempe, Arizona, beginning Friday.
When asked about whether her choice to come to OSU was the right one, Bayne’s eyes lit up as she started to grin.
“It’s been one of the best decisions of my life,” she said.