When Ohio State senior right fielder Alex Bayne started playing softball, it was because her dad, a former baseball player himself, wanted to see his daughter take up the sport that he so dearly cherished.
Little did Bayne’s father know at the time that his influence bred one of the Big Ten’s most dominant players.
Alex Bayne’s first start came in 2015, but she really made a name for herself the following year. She tied OSU’s single-season home run record with 19, led the team in RBIs (49), runs (53) and OBP (.461), and was even named first-team All-Big Ten, as well as first-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Midwest Region.
While Bayne’s breakout season was certainly one for the history books, softball hasn’t always come so naturally to the Manvel, Texas, native.
She originally began her college career at Marshall University, eventually transferring to OSU, making the team as a walk-on.
“Marshall wasn’t a good fit for me personally, so I took the year off and contemplated whether I wanted to play softball still,” Bayne said. “My boyfriend — now fiance — was going to OSU, and I’d come to visit him. I fell in love with OSU and knew I wanted to play softball again, so I started getting ready for tryouts to show that I was worth it.”
Despite proving that she was worth it during tryouts, Bayne was still anything but a refined softball player. It was through the guidance of the coaching staff and some former teammates that helped Bayne realize her full potential.
“The coaching staff has developed me exponentially,” Bayne said. “I came in a wide-eyed sophomore who was a walk-on coming from tryouts. My coaches saw potential in me that I didn’t even see yet, and they developed my talents. Also, the leaders of the team back then took me under their wing and allowed me to really grow.”
Not only is Bayne one of the top softball players in the country, she’s now a leader for OSU. Senior pitcher Shelby Hursh said it’s Bayne’s reliability that sets her apart from the pack.
“It’s the best feeling to have players like Alex behind you,” Hursh said. “Especially as a pitcher, you know that if you give up a couple runs, we have a hitter like her and we’ll be able to get those runs back.”
Bayne has picked up right where she left off through OSU’s first eight games this season. She has already hit six home runs, scored 11 runs, and has a .407 batting average.
In order to attain such consistency, a player has to be willing to work hard and be coachable, OSU coach Kelly Schoenly said.
“What I appreciate so much about Alex is that she learned from the leaders during her first year on the team,” Schoenly said. “Alex purposely attached herself to them so she could learn from the very best. She was never bitter, and Alex learned that if you want to get in the starting lineup, you have to put in the extra work, and she started doing it.”
In her final year of eligibility, Bayne has not begun to seriously reflect on her time as a Buckeye. Although she’s been a part of some memorable moments in the last two seasons, the best is yet to come, as far as Bayne is concerned.
“I definitely think this season’s up for a lot of special memories,” Bayne said. “Obviously, going to the postseason last year and being one of the qualifying teams in the NCAA Tournament is probably at the top. I still think there’s more in store this year. There’s room for pretty great memories.”