Bailey Vannoy, the starting catcher for the Charlotte softball team, has been a commanding presence since her first at-bat with the team. Vannoy is a leader on and off the field who has earned respect and many impressive accolades. She has been shaped by many circumstances and is so much more than just a regular softball player.
Vannoy is currently tied for 48th in the nation in home runs with six on the season as of March 10 and has a batting average of .391, which leads the team. Charlotte is 14-7 on the year.
The success has been a long time coming for the junior.
Vannoy has always had a passion for the game of softball. Starting as a young child, hitting the ball off a tee at YMCA baseball games started her long journey to where she is now. From humble beginnings to the big stage, she has never changed.
"My brother was playing tee-ball, and we played on the same team at the YMCA," said Vannoy. "I enjoyed hitting the ball, and that is how my passion for the game started."
Family is something that has shaped Vannoy into the player as well as the person she is today. She credits her parents and siblings for giving her the support she needed to reach the next level. Without them, Vannoy doesn't know where she would be today.
"My family as a whole has helped to shape me as a person...my parents and siblings have always been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders," said Vannoy.
The junior catcher has always prided herself on making her teammates better and doing whatever she can to lead the Niners to victory. Vannoy has stepped into the leadership role on a team that has a family environment. It's all about enjoying the moment.
"If you look at what is ahead of you, it allows you to better prepare for things in life," she said. "The tough times have kept me at the moment so that I enjoy what I am doing right now."
She received a tremendous honor in the off-season as she was named the Top 50 Softball Players List. It was a huge honor that has shown that all of her hard work has paid off, but she has many more things that she wants to accomplish in the future. The most important thing for her is what she can do to make the team better.
"Statistics come and go, so I don't really focus on that," said Vannoy. "I try to make the game fun for myself as well as others."
Vannoy is coming off a breakout campaign in the Covid-19 shortened season, and she was batting an outstanding .480 batting average before the season ended abruptly. To start this season, Vannoy was struggling but has gotten back on track as she is currently at a .373 batting average as of March 13. She talked about how adversity has made her a better player.
"I had a slow start to the season because I was letting the pressure of the accolades I had received cloud my game," said Vannoy. "I had to dig deep to find what competitor that I was, and since then, I have been back to my old self."
Head Coach Ashley Chastain has been ecstatic about how Vannoy has taken to the team's leadership role. Vannoy's sacrifices and hard work have not gone unnoticed for Chastain as she had a lot to say about the star player.
"Bailey has taken it upon herself to become one of our leaders on and off the field," said Chastain. "She has a lot of experience that she can pass down to others."
Vannoy continues to take strides on the field. She has stepped into the leadership role by saying what needs to be said and keeping the team together. On the field, she has taken strides in her game as well as making others better.
"Whatever needs to be said that will keep our team together, I will say it," said Vannoy. "On the field, I try to lead by keeping the pitchers on track as well as keeping the infield encouraged throughout the game."
Her philosophy at the plate continues to be rather simple: to take her at-bats just one pitch at a time. Vannoy has taken a bigger presence at the plate, which has led to continued success on the ball's offensive side. As a catcher, she always tries to find ways to know what her teammates need from her.
"My only philosophy is to swing hard," said Vannoy. "It is the greatest compliment to be asked what I think and how others can improve."