“I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play.” –unknown
story by Cindy Burbage     photos by Shelia Scott
One of the hardest lessons to learn about life is in order to play hard, you must work hard. Meet Effingham County High School Senior, Bailee Wilson, whose life reflects this perception with her academics and softball career.
The seventeen-year-old began playing softball with the recreation department ten years ago and hasn’t looked back. Bailee shared, “I started when I was 8 years old and my love for the game only grew. My first travel ball experience came playing for the Angels. I stayed with this team for 5 years getting to compete at National Championships in Chattanooga, TN, Salem, VA, and even San Diego, CA. At 15 years old, I changed to the Georgia Impact. It was on this team when I first started to get recruited for college. It was important that I not only keep my skills up as a player, but also as a student. While attending school, I played for Effingham County Middle School on the softball team and for Effingham County High School. For my senior season, I will be playing for ECHS in the positions of pitcher and 3rd base.”
The love for the game and talent is something that runs in the Wilson family. Bailee’s interest was sparked by watching her sister, Shelby play. “She has always been someone that I look up to for guidance. She was playing in one of her travel ball games when her team made an amazing triple play. I looked over to my mom and told her, “I want to play!” the next week my parents signed me up for rec ball,” the pitcher reminisced.
Bailee has gone on to prove she is a force to be reckoned with on the ball field. Her achievements have been collected as: Region 2 AAAAAA Softball Player of the Year 2016/2017, Region 2 AAAAAA All State first team selection 2016/2017
Best Offensive Player ECHS Lady Rebel Softball team 2016/2017, Savannah Best of Preps Softball Player of the Year 2016/2017, Region 2 AAAAAA Softball Player of the Year 2017/2018, Region 2 AAAAAA All State first team selection 2017/2018, Best Offensive Player ECHS Lady Rebel Softball team 2017/2018, and Savannah Best of Preps Softball Player of the Year 2017/2018, respectfully.
Bailee Wilson’s accomplishments and determination will allow her to attend Georgia Southern University on a full scholarship. She explained her feat, “My scholarship to Georgia Southern was not a very easy decision for me. Ever since I was little, GS has been like home for me and my family. We would go to basketball games and softball games and I would go to their camps whenever I could. My recruitment started when I was 15. People may think that this is so young to be thinking about where you want to go to college, but in the softball world, this is too late to be recruited by some schools. At first, Georgia Southern was not even one of the colleges I thought about attending. Growing up, my entire family went there. My sister, Shelby, was recruited by them and is playing for them now. I thought at first it wasn’t for me because I didn’t want to go where my family went. I wanted to go somewhere different. I also didn’t want people to think I got my scholarship easy just because of my sister, says Bailee.
The recruitment process was difficult for me. I went on my visit and the coach explained to me that she didn’t want me because I was Shelby Wilson’s sister, she wanted me because I was Bailee Wilson.
Now, having only a couple of months left before I sign, I’m confident that Georgia Southern will always be a place that I can call home,” she adds. The ballplayer plans to attend the university for her four years and then continue her education in medical school to become a Trauma Physician.
The athlete admitted that her strength and inspiration to continue her path comes from her strong support system- her family and her faith. “My family, my mom Lisa, my dad, Mike and my sister Shelby, is my rock. They always encourage me to try new things and achieve my goals and dreams. My biggest supporter would have to be my amazing God. Through the ups and downs, He has always been there for me and has given me strength during the times when I was down on myself and when I was struggling to keep going. He gives me courage and guidance and I know that no matter what I do, He will always be my solid ground to stand on. My other biggest supporters would be my family, friends, and teammates. I am thankful for my family for giving me the chance to achieve my dream of playing college softball and for encouraging me and loving me every step of the way. I also want to thank my friends for when I couldn’t hang or go out with them because I had practice or a game. They too, encourage me and cheer me on with everything that I do. And finally, my teammates, nothing in this world compares to the times I have spent with you all and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thank you for being with me through the actual blood, sweat, and tears for softball, I couldn’t have asked for better girls to play and create memories with,” she says.
Sports is not the only area that Bailee Wilson shines; she also has a creative art side and admits it is her second favorite thing to do. During the school year, she spreads her time with other areas as well.  “I am the Vice President for my class on Student Council and I am also a part of many community service clubs at school such as Spanish National Honors Society, Beta Club, Interact Club and 4-H. My most favorite would be cheering on my fellow student athletes as a Rebel Rouser,” she gleefully shared.
Bailee Wilson has an amazing and exciting future ahead of her. She knows the value of hard work and the commitment it takes in achieving success. In closing she lovingly shared, “Softball has been one of the best times of my life. I could not see what the past 10 years of my life would have been like without it. I hope that when my first season starts as an Eagle, I can continue to be not only the best player, but also the best person that I can be. I want to thank anyone that has been with me during my times as a young, growing softball player, you all have shaped me to the person I am today, and I could not have done it without all of you. Thank you to Ms. Julie, Ms. Cindy, and Ms. Sheila for making this article possible and thank you for everyone at Effingham Magazine for continuing to support young and ambitious athletes like myself. And finally, I want to thank God for blessing me with this amazing sport called softball. Without it, I would be nothing.”
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