Bailey has become Scots’ consistent ace as playoffs approach
At the end of the pandemic-shortened 2020 baseball season, Highland Park coaches sat Ben Bailey down for a talk.
Based on his sub-varsity development, demeanor, and repertoire, they explained that Bailey would be a top-three pitcher for them the following year. Bailey looked at them with stunned gratitude and left the meeting determined their belief would be validated.
Now a senior, his emergence as the ace of the HP pitching staff is one reason the Scots are optimistic entering postseason play.
“He does the right things on and off the field,” said HP head coach Travis Yoder. “He’s a model of consistency. We know what we’re going to get out of him every time.”
Quiet confidence has driven Bailey’s improvement. His even-keeled approach finds him keeping to himself before a starting assignment, immersed in focus and prayer.
He’s quiet, but he loves to compete, and loves to win.Travis Yoder
“I started trusting my stuff more,” Bailey said, “When I step out there, I always tell myself that I’m the best, and I believe it.”
The right-hander’s first varsity start resulted in a win over McKinney Boyd as a junior. Later that season, he became a reliable arm out of the bullpen, earning a clutch save in the deciding third game of a playoff series victory over Midlothian.
That earned Bailey a postseason start the following weekend against Hallsville. His spot in the rotation has never been in doubt since, with injuries elsewhere on the roster elevating his impact.
“I know that I have higher expectations, but I always have the same mindset when I go out to the mound,” Bailey said. “If they can hit my best stuff, then hat’s off to them.”
Bailey isn’t a fireballer — his fastball tops out at around 86 miles per hour — but he has improved command of his off-speed pitches and consistently pounds the strike zone.
This season, Bailey has also been a productive hitter in the middle of the HP lineup. He plays third base in games when he doesn’t pitch.
“He took the ace role. His confidence came through experience,” Yoder said. “There’s nothing flashy about him. He’s quiet, but he loves to compete, and he loves to win.”