This year the Louisiana Farm Bureau Insurance/LSWA Miss Softball Award turns 20.
To try to commemorate the milestone, a panel of the state’s sportswriters came up with a transcendent choice to bestow their highest honor on a softball player in Louisiana.
St. Thomas More catcher Bailey Hemphill.
“She’s one of the premier softball players in the country,” STM coach Andria Waguespack said. “She’s a once in a lifetime player for a coach to have in your program.”
Hemphill’s impact on STM’s program was felt immediately as she helped the Cougars to consecutive Class 4A state championships in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
A year after STM failed to reach the state tournament, Hemphill was determined this past season to guide the Cougars on another deep postseason run, which ended in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Her imprints were all over the Cougars’ successful season, from a productive standpoint and her ever-present leadership.
“I’m going to try to be the best that I can be,” said Hemphill, an Alabama signee. “It’s a goal to be that best at everything you do, but I’m not doing it for me.
“It’s to help out my team and do whatever I can to help them. It’s not trying to be the best for me. I’m trying to be the best to help out my teammates.”
Hemphill is the first Miss Softball from Lafayette in 14 years. She is the city’s third overall winner, joining Lafayette High’s Micah Barbato (1998) and two-time winner Beth Provost (2001-02) of Teurlings Catholic.
“At first I was kind of shocked; I wasn’t expecting it to be me,” Hemphill said. “It’s a huge honor and not many people have the opportunity to be on that list. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I don’t take it as an individual award. It’s more of a team effort.”
The Miss Softball honor is the crown jewel in a career in Louisiana in which Hemphill has been named to the Class 4A all-state team four straight years, capped by this season’s Most Outstanding Player honor.
“She’s put in a lot of hard work and made sacrifices,” Waguespack said. “She’s a great player, but more so she’s a great person.”
Gaudy statistics were the norm during her career and Hemphill’s senior year was no different.
Hemphill batted .560 with an eye-popping .778 on-base percentage, which also was the byproduct of 49 walks. She registered a 1.380 slugging percentage — highlighted by 12 home runs — to go along with 29 RBIs and just one strikeout in 99 plate appearances.
For her career, Hemphill finished second nationally with 145 walks and fifth with 54 homers. She batted .568 with only eight strikeouts in 245 at- bats.
“It’s a great honor for her, and we’re super proud of her at STM,” Waguespack said. “I’m so happy to see her end her high school career with this kind of honor. It’s very much deserved.”