JOHANNESBURG – Former Johannesburg-Lewiston softball coach Ashlie House remembers a conversation she had with Bailey Bennett a couple of years ago at the Gaylord E-Free Church.
“I pulled her aside in the parking lot, and it was after my first year of coaching (in 2014),” House said. “I told her she should consider playing college ball. I said to her, ‘You’re that good, and you have the potential to be really good.’ I think that motivation gave her a spark in her eyes that she could be that good at softball.”
Three years later, Bennett proved House was right about her playing softball at the next level, as the senior signed with the Adrian College softball team during a special ceremony Wednesday.
“I was planning on going to Adrian anyway,” Bennett said. “My coach always told me I was good enough to play at least some kind of college-level softball, like in the NAIA or Division III, so I guess my mom convinced me to email their coach and give them my stats, and they decided that I was good enough to play for them.”
Bennett is more than good enough to play in college.
As a junior, she helped the rebuilding Cardinals by carrying a .443 batting average, .671 slugging percentage and hitting two home runs. Afterward, she finished as the Herald Times Player of the Year.
Through 20 games this spring, Bennett has a team-best three home runs and has batted .595 with 25 hits and 17 RBIs.
She has helped the program at both third base and in the outfield.
House said Bennett’s off-season dedication, which included working with a private hitting instructor, has led to her success.
“During my second year, it was a complete 100-percent turnaround with her, and she was a completely different player and was a much stronger hitter,” said House, who stepped down as the Cardinals’ coach after last season. “She can throw fence to fence, and we worked on her…