Chloe Baynes Tallassee Lady Tigers softball

Tallassee freshman outfielder Chloe Baynes has continued to add awards to her ever-growing collection.

Tallassee outfielder Chloe Baynes’ play in 2019 was something truly spectacular, especially for a freshman. Her ability earned her attention throughout the state this season, and that spotlight has now reached the national level.

Baynes was named the National Freshman Softball Player of the Year by MaxPreps last week. The accolade was just the latest received by Baynes, who was also named to the Class 5A All-State first team and was selected as the Opelika-Auburn News’ Hitter of the Year.

“It really means a lot to me,” Baynes said of the national award. “When I was in seventh grade, I got All-Area for the first time. I thought that was such a big deal to me. I never thought my name would be associated with the words 'National Player of the Year’. It just means a lot to me.”

Baynes found herself on base early and often for Tallassee this spring. She had a .669 batting average thanks to 117 hits along with 82 stolen bases and 90 runs scored.

Baynes also extended her career record of 115 consecutive stolen bases before the streak was snapped on March 18. She was five steals away from tying the AHSAA state record for consecutive steals in a season when she was thrown out.

The Lady Tigers went 44-9 with Baynes’ help. For Tallassee coach Pat Love, there’s little hesitation to let Baynes take off once she reaches base.

“She's real special. She's fast. She's got the green light anytime,” Love said. “Anytime she's on base, the next few on up to bat have got a really good chance with the defense worried about her so much. Sometimes, she takes them out of position. If they even look to get her, the two or three girls we've got on right behind her (in the lineup) are really fast.”

Baynes and her teammates had plenty to celebrate in 2019 in a season that included an area championship. Baynes pointed to the team’s 10-9 victory over Brewbaker Tech in the area tournament as her favorite moment of her freshman year, explaining it was a back-and-forth affair that had both teams giving their all.

After the teams traded the lead multiple times, Belle Haynes hit a ball just over the shortstop to score Ella Thrash and give Tallassee a walk-off 10-9 victory.

The moment and impending celebration summed up the joy Baynes experienced as a freshman and in her third season playing with the varsity team.

“It was so fun. That was the best year definitely by far (because of) all the things I accomplished and what my team accomplished,” Baynes said. “My team is a great group of girls. I love every single one of them. I really don't think there is another team like us. We bond so great, and we're all so close.”

Although Tallassee’s season is over, Baynes has remained busy this summer alongside some of her Lady Tigers teammates with the EC Bullets 16U travel team. Baynes said she’ll also be playing softball in the fall, which she feels will have her really prepared for her sophomore season.

Baynes made a name for herself in a freshman year that few could ever match. With all but one Tallassee player coming back in 2020, Baynes is anticipating even more big moments for herself and her team next spring.

“I'm so excited. This team that we have this upcoming year, I think we're going to be really good,” Baynes said. “It's basically the same exact team coming back, so that's awesome. I think we'll be even better than we were last year.”

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