Most people would call these video game numbers: A .656 batting average, 17 home runs, 52 RBIs, a .795 on-base percentage, three strikeouts — in the entire season.
That’s what St. Thomas More junior softball catcher Bailey Hemphill calls a sophomore year.
Hemphill, a junior, has become one of the premier athletes in the state, being selected first-team all-state twice already.
Her most recent accolade was being named to the American Family Insurance All-USA Preseason Softball Team. She is ranked as the top high school position player in the nation, according to recruiting service FullCountSoftball.com.
But according to Hemphill’s coaches — she starts for the Cougars varsity basketball team as well — none of this will ever come up in conversation.
“She is a super humble kid,” STM basketball coach Stephen Strojny said. “You would never be able to get out of her that she’s one of the most sought-after softball recruits in the country.”
STM softball coach Andria Waguespack called Hemphill “very genuine.”
“She’s very humble when it comes to her athletics,” Waguespack said. “I mean she is an absolute powerhouse, but she is definitely a gentle giant.
“She’s not going to come off as that aggressive, overconfident player. If you met her off the field, you would never imagine she was what she is on the field once the game starts.”
When asked about her accomplishments, Hemphill deflects the answer to those around her, the people she says have gotten her to this point. Hemphill said without her teammates or her family she wouldn’t be the same player she is today.
“My parents have always told me to never boast about yourself because when you brag about yourself it doesn’t look good on your part,” Hemphill said. “I dedicate everything that I have to my teammates who have pushed me. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.”
Athletes often seek the spotlight in today’s culture, but Hemphill has no desire.
St. Thomas More wanted to hang a banner for Hemphill after she was named to the All-USA team, but Waguespack said when she asked Hemphill about the idea she begged them not to do it.
“You don’t see that everyday. Today’s athletes are all about me and promoting their brand and committing to a school and putting four hats on a table and making it all about them,” Strojny said. “She has no desire to shine any spotlight on herself.”
Don’t confuse Hemphill’s giving nature for a lack of competitive fire.
“As a coach, I find it very hard to coach competitiveness,” Waguespack said. “Either you’ve got that fire in you or you don’t. It’s very difficult nowadays to find kids who really want to compete.”
Hemphill definitely has the requisite fire. After a tough loss during the basketball season, Hemphill was visibly distraught, and Strojny said she took the loss hard, despite it being a nondistrict game.
“I’ve always been competitive,” Hemphill said. “When you have your teammates and you work so hard for something, you just don’t want to let them down.”
Waguespack said while she knows Hemphill hates to lose, she’d much rather lose to the best opponent she can face and compete, instead of demolishing overmatched competition.
“If the scoreboard doesn’t go in your favor, you may not like it, but you can deal with it as long as you’re competing and competing at that high level,” Waguespack said.
Her natural competitiveness funneled her toward a leadership role.
While Hemphill led by prolific example during her freshman and sophomore campaigns, Strojny and now Waguespack are seeing a more vocal leader in the locker room and on the playing field.
“I’ve been coaching for 21 years, and I’ve only seen one or two kids like her. She may be the only one, it’s really rare,” Strojny said. “… She doesn’t tell people ‘Lead me, follow me or like me.’ She just shows up and leads and everyone says, ‘OK we better follow.’ ”
“She’s not afraid of someone being mad at her for a day or two because she gets on them when they are not giving 100 percent. That’s what you look for in a leader.”
Despite starring in two sports, Hemphill will say her greatest achievements have come outside the fields and courts.
Strojny said Hemphill maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, while volunteering for several campus organizations.
Hemphill is a regular volunteer at St. Thomas More’s Options program for at-need kids, and is one of the programs most-loved volunteers.
“We have about 17 autistic and Down syndrome kids, and she is the star of that room,” Waguespack said. “When she walks into the room, she gets basically a standing ovation, they all absolutely love her. It just shows the heart that she has and what she means to that group of people.”
For most people, the athletic effort would be enough for one day’s work, but as Hemphill has proven throughout her young high school career so far she is not most people.
“It definitely takes a lot of work,” Hemphill said. “When you’re passionate about something, it doesn’t really matter what the cost is you just want to do it.”