'Clear mind' helps College of DuPage hitter clear bases
Bailey Engel can trace a line back to her softball beginnings.
“Both my mom and my older sister played softball and my dad had experience coaching, so they had always planned on me trying it out,” Engel told the DuPage Policy Journal in an email. “Once I tried it, I was pretty much hooked and have continued playing since.”
Now most of the lines she sees are between base paths.
A College of DuPage (CoD) sophomore, Engel has dominated opposing pitching this season for the Chaparrals, ranking among the best in several categories in Division III of the National Junior College Athletic Association — including being the leader in a few.
Through May 2, the outfielder from Naperville led Division III in runs scored with 69, hits with 76 and plate appearances with 180. She was also seventh in triples with six and 12th in stolen bases with 21.
She also posted a .478 batting average, .531 on-base percentage and .673 slugging percentage.
Engel said she has been bringing a “clear mind” focus to her hitting this season.
“If I think too much it can throw me off my game,” she said. “Overall, I am just really trying to give my best effort to help this team reach our goals.”
After earning two varsity letters at Naperville North High School, Engel moved on to Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, to start her collegiate playing career. As a freshman, she hit .367 in 79 at-bats, but despite her strong showing, Engel decided to leave Clarke because it didn't offer a degree in secondary education.
She said leaving Clarke was difficult, but CoD offered the opportunity to play close to home while continuing to build her academic resume until she decided on her next destination.
Also, she has a lot of familiarity with the Chaparrals' coaching staff.
“I have known coach (Ryan) Connell for a long time because he coached here when my sister (Layne) played — she is now an assistant coach — so I pretty much knew I would play softball here the second I arrived,” Engel said.
She particularly enjoys the team aspect of the game, she said.
“There are a lot of individual aspects to softball, but in the end everything you do contributes to the team,” Engel said. “I like being able to work with others and being able to be a part of something bigger than myself. I have made a lot of lifelong friends thanks to this sport, and your teammates are truly the reason the sport is so much fun.”
Engel said she has not decided on where she will take her game once this season is over and her CoD eligibility has expired.
“I decided really late that I wanted to continue to play, so if I cannot find a scholarship, I may try to walk on somewhere,” she said.
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