PENDLETON — It might not have been the season that she envisioned, but it was a mark worth honoring.
Pendleton Heights’ Bailey Benefiel put up some spectacular numbers and earned the nod as The Herald Bulletin’s Softball Pitcher of the Year — repeating the award she also won a season ago.
The seeds of her discontent can be found in the fact that for the first time in recent memory, the Arabians were ousted in the very first game of their own sectional, 2-0, by the New Castle Trojans.
When asked if she had a better senior season than her junior year, she candidly answered, “Probably no.”
Yet the numbers were good enough to gain her All-State First Team selection and earn a spot on the Indiana All-Star Team.
Benefiel threw 135.2 innings and logged in 176 strikeouts compared to 32 walks, nearly a 6:1 ratio. She gave up just four homers runs in 23 games. Despite her 1.60 ERA, she had a 13-9 record, which speaks to the difficulty of the PH schedule and the struggles the team sometimes had in scoring.
“I like it that we play good teams almost all the time,” said Benefiel. “I talk to some girls on travel teams and they talk about how easy their high school season is. Our’s isn’t that way.”
“Bailey has been a workhorse for PHHS for her career,” said Arabians coach Rob Davis. “She set the school strikeout record with 516 for her career. She gave you a chance to win every time the ball was in her hands. She defeated every area school she faced this year. She was definitely a thoroughbred when she was on the mound. Without a doubt one of the best pitchers that has come through this area in quite some time.”
Her team’s defense enabled her to pitch in tight situations with confidence.