NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OSU softball: A year off brought Rylee Bayless perspective, maturity

Advertisement
Oklahoma State softball player Rylee Bayless is having a strong senior season after missing last year with a torn ACL. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN]
Oklahoma State softball player Rylee Bayless is having a strong senior season after missing last year with a torn ACL. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN]

STILLWATER — There was a time not too long ago when one poor at-bat would ruin Rylee Bayless’ day.

“If I struck out, it was like the end of the world,” the Oklahoma State softball player said.

Bayless, the Cowgirls’ senior leadoff hitter, can laugh now about the emotional ups and downs of her younger days, which seem like a distant memory, but really aren’t.

It wasn’t until Bayless had her first attempt at a senior season taken away from her that she finally looked at the game from a broader perspective.

A torn ACL last year left her on the sideline, and the learning experience is paying off in big ways now, as Bayless prepares for her final two regular-season games at Cowgirl Stadium.

No. 13 OSU hosts top-ranked Oklahoma on Friday and Sunday, with a game at OU set for Saturday in the most highly anticipated Bedlam softball series in nearly a decade.

Bayless has been a masterful leadoff hitter, reaching base in nearly half of her plate appearances. She’s batting .361 with a .497 on-base percentage.

Her statistical steadiness can be — at least partially — attributed to her year watching from the dugout.

“I grew a lot, not just as a player, but as a person,” Bayless said. “I learned a lot sitting out, and I was really surprised about it.

“I grew up a lot mentally. Obviously, I still get pretty wild, but I can control it now.”

Bayless is still an emotional player. In fact, it’s one of her most valuable qualities.

“She gives us so much energy,” sophomore Michaela Richbourg said. “She’s really smart. She starts us off getting on base. As soon as she gets going, it’s hard for us not to.”

OSU coach Kenny Gajewski has immense appreciation for Bayless’ development on the field, but he sees a bigger picture.

“That emotional growth is what she needed here,” Gajewski said. “I don’t even think she cared about school when she got here. She has graduated and she’s getting a Master’s now.

“She’s good. We all know she’s good. But this is a kid who is breaking the cycle in her family. It was hard, and I was worried, because softball has always been her life, but now she’s figured out there’s another life out here that you can succeed in and feel good about.”

Bayless now looks back on what seemed like a devastating injury as a blessing in disguise.

“I play like every day could be my last day, because I thought last year was my last day,” Bayless said. “It puts things in perspective if you have something like that and you’re lucky enough to get another year.”

Related Photos
<strong>Rylee Bayless is  batting .361 with a .497 on-base percentage this season for the Cowgirls. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson]</strong>

Rylee Bayless is batting .361 with a .497 on-base percentage this season for the Cowgirls. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ba095947cb325d5efbd8a7eea6f0d5a8.jpg" alt="Photo - Rylee Bayless is batting .361 with a .497 on-base percentage this season for the Cowgirls. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] " title=" Rylee Bayless is batting .361 with a .497 on-base percentage this season for the Cowgirls. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] "><figcaption> Rylee Bayless is batting .361 with a .497 on-base percentage this season for the Cowgirls. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b380a011f8a35b9b2af2c35f224b7c29.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State softball player Rylee Bayless is having a strong senior season after missing last year with a torn ACL. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Oklahoma State softball player Rylee Bayless is having a strong senior season after missing last year with a torn ACL. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Oklahoma State softball player Rylee Bayless is having a strong senior season after missing last year with a torn ACL. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure>
Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›

Comments