About 20 miles south of Houston, in the small town of Manvel, Texas, Edith Applegate walked her 10-year-old granddaughter Alex Bayne home from elementary school.
As the pair walked up the driveway, a young Bayne pranced up toward the house that stood on 5 acres of land. She patiently sat, waited for her parents to get home from work, and thought about her upcoming dance recital.
Later that night, she would play catch with her father, David, as her mother Joni looked on. As the ball hit the glove that was bigger than her head, Bayne knew almost immediately this was something she would want to do for a long time.
Fast forward to a decade later, Bayne crosses home plate at Buckeye Field, pauses at the dish, firing an imaginary bow and arrow into the outfield. She just hit her second three-run home run of the game against Maryland, giving the team a 12-2 lead in the 2016 Big Ten opener.
These would be just two of the 19 home runs she slugged in her junior season for the Ohio State softball team, leading the team and tying a single-season school record.
But before Bayne was leading the Buckeyes in home runs, she was told by multiple schools that she was just too small to succeed in their programs.
“It’s kind of ironic now,” said Bayne, who is now entering her senior season. “There were times when schools would literally tell me they were looking for someone with bigger stature or someone with a little more power in their bat.”
At 5-foot-5 inches tall, Bayne might not be the biggest player on the field, but she sure does pack a punch. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in drive and determination.
“With a small stature, she is still our strongest player in the weight room,” said coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “She absolutely crushes it in there.”
Bayne learned her drive and focus from an early age.
As an Associated Press and Texas scholar during her high-school career, Bayne was able to excel in both academics and athletics, while still maintaining a social life. She learned to prioritize what was most important with the help of her parents. It also helped that Bayne had an immense interest in learning.
“It sounds kind of geeky, but I loved it and I still do,” Bayne said. “My parents helped me to learn that education is the most important thing. They taught me that if you excel in your education, you’ll be able to play softball and still hang out with friends.”
Joining an 18-and-under league by the age of 14, Bayne realized she had the talent to play at the next level. After what felt like hundreds of emails and handwritten letters to coaches all across the country, she found herself at Marshall University for her freshman year of college.
While falling in love with the community atmosphere of Marshall University that reminded Bayne a lot of home, the program wound up not being the right fit. As a result, she would take the year off from softball during what would have been her sophomore season, giving Bayne time to refocus and regain a passion for the sport.
It was during this time that Bayne discovered OSU. After numerous visits with her then-boyfriend, now-fiancé Bryce Calvin, who was a student at OSU, Bayne felt a special connection with the university.
“I fell in love with the school, the traditions and how everyone strives for excellence here,” Bayne said. “You don’t come to Ohio State to be average. You come here to be awesome academically and athletically. I knew this is where I wanted to be and the people I wanted to surround myself with.”
Having already made her transfer academically, Bayne then looked to join the Buckeyes’ softball team. After numerous emails with the coaches, Bayne came in for one of the team’s open tryouts, where she impressed enough to become a member of the team.
“At the time we really didn’t have a lot of room on our roster, but there was something about Alex; a spark and determination that we couldn’t turn down,” Kovach Schoenly said. “I really didn’t know how she would fit in or develop, but we took the chance.”
The rest is history. Through long hours and steady focus, Bayne has made herself into one of the best power hitters Ohio State has ever seen. She attributes much of her success to the advice she has received from hitting coach Jenna Hall and strength coach Andres Britton.
“She bought into the training program and puts all her energy and focus into it and it has paid off,” Britton said. “She takes her time and makes sure she gets the most out of every training session. She embraces the process, trusts in the program and has a tremendous work ethic and positive attitude.”
While acknowledging the schools that overlooked her for her lack of power, Bayne does not hold a grudge. Rather, she is grateful.
“I’m very happy with where I am,” Bayne said. “If they hadn’t have passed on me, I wouldn’t have worked my way here to where I am today. Now I’m just like ‘Hey, I’m still 5-foot-5, but I do have power.’”
With just one year of eligibility left, Bayne has big goals for herself and her team in her final season. While wanting to limit strikeouts, make herself a harder out and become a better leader, the main thing on her mind is making the postseason.
“The most important thing to me in my senior season is knowing I helped this team get to where we wanted to go, regardless of my recognition,” Bayne said. “That is what would make me have a happy and fulfilling senior year.”