On the right track: Junior Madisen Barringer has helped the West Forsyth softball team since moving to the outfield

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

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CLEMMONS — No matter the sport, teams and coaches are always looking for that particular athlete who can be slotted almost anywhere and be productive. 

The West Forsyth softball team has just that in junior Madisen Barringer. She has played a number of different positions, some of which are at the behest of Coach Kevin Baity. 

After just completing her season for the Titans, who finished 24-4 overall, 12-2 in the Central Piedmont 4-A, won the Central Piedmont 4-A tournament, and reached the second round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A tournament before losing at Northwest Guilford, Barringer pretty much settled in right field because there was a need for her there.  

“(Baity) told me he needed a right fielder,” Barringer said. “He said he thought I could do it, so that’s what I did.” 

One thing that helped her understand why Baity wanted to make the change for the betterment of the team was because she respects her coach. 

“I think he’s more than a coach,” Barringer said. “I consider him more like a friend, a mentor.”

Barringer played mostly at third base as a sophomore, but the Titans lost some players after last season.

“She did a good job at third, but it’s we lost some outfielders, and we had some much more needs, I guess, in the outfield,” Baity said. “And plus, we had a couple of young ones that came in, freshmen that came in her sophomore year that could play infield and not play outfield.

So, I just asked her if she’d mind trying itmaking the move, and she was willing to. And I still think we played her some of both last year, but then she eventually moved to the outfield.”

And that, according to her, was the first time she’d played any outfield position.

“It was difficult, especially in the beginning,” Barringer said. “It was very different in the beginning. I started to love it. I love right.” 

After a trial run last year, she made right field her permanent home this past season.

“This year, of course, I played her in right field all year long because the majority of our put outs in the outfield were in right field.” Baity said. “And she has actually adjusted well because of her strong arm. She’s actually threw several girls out at first base on base hits.”

Barringer might have played right field this past season, but there is a need at other positions Baity knows who to call.

Honestly, right now, if any of the infielders was injured or whatever she would be the next up,” Baity said. “You know, she truly has played first, second and third for me. So, she could do any of those three and in the outfield.  

“So, she could truly play any of them.” 

Although Barringer plays naturally at almost any position on a softball field she had to work at her craft. According to her, she said she started feeling comfortable playing right field after a handful of games. 

We had the preseason gamesand we had the scrimmages, so it was about five games,” she said. “And I was like, ‘I can actually do this.'” 

After a couple regular-season games the switch turned on for Barringer. 

“I started making plays out there and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m actually pretty good out there,'” she said.  

By her own admission, Barringer considers herself a natural at softball, but there is still plenty of work to be done

“I definitely don’t think I’m as good as like I could be, but I hope when that time comes I will,” she said. “I still have a whole nother year, so…” 

Like with her defense at multiple positions, Barringer has had to work hard on her hitting. 

“I didn’t feel like I knew what I could do,” she said. “Definitely my head space. It was very bad toward the end of (last) year. Hitting was just making contact. You don’t need to hit to the fence every time you get up there.” 

Part of the change was cutting down her strikeouts from last season.

“Especially strikeouts looking, it was a problem,” Barringer said. “I thought my pitch had to be perfect, and I was never going to get a perfect pitch.” 

Baity sat down with her and mapped out some things for which she could improve as a hitter. 

“She did have quite a few strikeouts last year,” Baity said. “And that was one thing, you know, I meet with each player at the end of each season to go over things that we’d like to see them improve on, things that they can work on during the summer.  

“You know, one of those things, I tell them they could have more walks than strikeouts. I do remember that she had more strikeouts than walks. And that was one of the goalswe wanted for her not to have so many strikeouts.

During the eight or nine months after her sophomore season, as she prepared for this past season, her junior year, that was a point of emphasis for her. 

“I guess I didn’t want to strike out anymore,” Barringer said. “I wanted to actually get on base.”

Like Barringer said, and Baity agreed, many of her strikeouts in her sophomore season were as the result of looking at strike three.

“I do know this year she basically cut that in half as far as her strikeouts,” Baity said.

It all comes down to confidence.

“The thing about that is pitch selection is such a huge thing for a lot of the girls,” Baity said. “I think that was the same thing with MadisenShe was looking for that perfect pitch, and then she’d get herself in the hole and then she wasn’t really sure, you know, if she’s swinging at a strike or not.

Softball, especially hitting, is extremely tough. Nobody is even going to come close to being perfect.

“I think I did a whole lot better,” Barringer said. “I worked my butt off in the offseason. I worked and worked, travel (ball), I was in the gym, (took) hitting lessons, just a lot of work.”

This season, Barringer elected to use positive reinforcement. 

“Before I get up to bat, I just told myself, ‘You can do it,'” she said. “I learned to make adjustments. I mean if the ball was being pitched outside, I’d move more to the plate, more inside, move out.

All the hard work is paying off. Barringer changed her offensive struggles from last season and proved to be one of the best offensive players this past season for West Forsyth.

I think this year, she definitely has understood the strike zone more, and she’s been more patient at the plate. And I think that has helped, not only with the strikeouts, but her batting average has went up tremendously, also.”

She also tore the cover off the ball as a hitter this past season. According to Baity, Barringer batted .533, which was second on the team behind Sydney Horton, and Barringer had 26 RBIs. Barringer said she had four home runs and Baity said she added 16 stolen bases.

Baity even said she’s one of the fastest players for the Titans. 

“I hit it well this year. I was consistent,” Barringer said. “Just work. Just working during practice, weekends, after practices.”

Barringer has learned from those who played before her and with her. That leadership is invaluable. Barringer will be one of six seniors next season.

“Probably next year all of those seniors might be considered captains,” Baity said. “I tell them all, even if you don’t have the label of a captain, you can be, you know, can have that leadership abilities and she’s certainly one of those.

All of this hard work, learning from older players over the past three years, and getting coaching from Baity should help the Titans.

“I definitely want to keep getting good, hit better, be a team leader,” Barringer said.

That leadership will be invaluable next season, her senior year, because West Forsyth isn’t losing any players to graduation.

“I would love to be a team leader. I’d really like to be a leader, like a senior leader of a team,” Barringer said. “I want to be a leader of a team.”

So, the team will likely be favored to win the Central Piedmont 4-A and make a deep run in the playoffs in 2025.

“These girls, I don’t know that the pressure really bothers them that much,” Baity said. “It might me more than it does them, making sure that I’ve got them prepared. And that’s why, you know, in the fall, we’re really going to do a lot of, even right now every time my Madison (Baity’s daughter and assistant coach) will think about something, and she’ll tell me.

“I’ve got on my phone I’ve got a list of things I want to make sure we go over in the fall so there’s not anything that we do not go over, that they’re not prepared for when the season starts.”

One thing Barringer, who has a 4.2 GPA at West Forsyth, is already thinking about is playing softball in college. Her dream school now is Lenoir-Rhyne, but that could change. While in college she wants to major in sports medicine with a concentration on physical therapy.

“If she continues to improve as much as she has from her freshman year, I think she can definitely be successful in college,” Baity said. “You know, just the speed of the game, she obviously, it is a different level. But as much as she’s made the adjustment just in high school, I think she can definitely make that adjustment.”

Like everything else in her high school career at West Forsyth Barringer is looking forward to the challenge.

“I think I could get a lot better,” she said. “Just staying consistent like I’ve been doing. Getting stronger.”