Bethel College softball coach David Middleton envisions his 2019 lineup with Bailea Crist playing in center field.
Or right field.
Or left field
Or first base
Or on the mound.
You get picture. Crist probably will be the most versatile of all of Middleton’s signings for next season.
“I am absolutely excited to get somebody as versatile as Bailea,” Middleton said after Crist signed her letter of intent on Tuesday in a ceremony in the MHS Little Theatre with family and friends in attendance. “This is fantastic. We are signing a great athlete, not just a position player. She’s just a great athlete and we can use her in a lot of positions. She’s going to help our team all the way around. The thing that got me watching her this summer is I saw her lay down a bunt one time up and then hit a home run the next time. We have hit gold in our own backyard. I know she was really recruited hard locally, but I’m happy she signed with us.”
Crist will be entering her fourth year as a starter for the Bullpups and has played a little bit of everywhere. Last year she spent the majority of her time at first base, but also pitched. In the past she has been in the outfield where she can utilize her speed and strong arm.
“It could be anywhere,” Crist said of where she’ll play not only this year, but when she joins the Threshers. “I love center field. Center field is my favorite place.”
Crist batted a rousing .462 this past season with 4 homers and 23 RBIs. She was named to the All-AVCTL second team as a utility player and pitcher. The year before, she was a second-team pick as an outfielder and pitcher.
Crist was being recruited by a number of schools, but Bethel had been in on her for a long time and she liked the loyalty the coaching staff showed her.
“The coaches have been supporting me throughout all my softball seasons since I was a freshman,” said Crist, who also was a volleyball standout for the second-ranked Bullpups this fall. “They have always been very supportive and very nice and very welcoming. I visited there and the facility was very nice. The players were welcoming.”
Crist is pleased to get the decision out of the way so she can concentrate on helping the Bullpups turn things around this spring.
“I think we have a lot of talent this year,” she said. “I think we’re going to come together and get after it.”
After she wraps up her Bullpup season this upcoming spring, she plans on playing summer ball, but isn’t sure just where yet. She has played for the Salina Stealth in the past and was a member of the 2015 state championship team.
Off the field, she earned the OMEGA award for making a difference in the community through positive attitude and actions of leadership, service, courage and compassion. She was a 2017 inductee into the National Honor Society, which is based on scholarship, character, leadership and service.
In addition to being a four-year volleyball player, Crist played basketball as a freshman and sophomore.
She will be majoring in criminal justice or fire science.