It’s a situation that every baseball or softball player dreams about when they step foot on a diamond, and Marlboro Academy pitcher Bailey Jacobs found herself smack-dab in the middle of it last year.
With a 2012 South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) AA State Championship on the line back in May of 2012, Jacobs stood on the mound after 6 2/3 innings pitched and her team up 3-2 over the Thomas Heyward Academy lady Rebels.
It was the bottom of the seventh inning, with two outs, the bases loaded and a full count registered on the batter, Thomas Heyward’s Ashlie Layman. Jacobs stood before hundreds of fans at the lady Rebels’ home field located in Ridgeland, S.C. and the game had ultimately come down to one final pitch.
“I was definitely scared,” said Jacobs, a two-time SCISA region 4-AA player of the year. “But I had worked hard to get to that point of my career, so I trusted myself that I had what it took to finish the game.”
Jacob’s next pitch was a perfectly-placed curve ball that brushed the outside corner of the plate for a strikeout. And with that, the Lady Dragons began to celebrate winning the first state championship in Marlboro Academy softball history.
Coach Norman Quick (part of Marlboro Academy coaching trio consisting of Quick, Boyd McLaurin and Scotty Jacobs) was calling pitches for Jacobs that day. And according to Quick, Jacobs has made the ability to perform in pressure-packed situations a common occurrence throughout her decorated career.
A career which Jacobs will continue at Florence-Darlington Technical College, which she will attend in the fall.
“She is, without question, the most dominant pitcher I’ve seen,” Quick said. “It’s easy to call pitches for Bailey, because she has such good command of her throws. She is our go-to pitcher because she’s not afraid to make the throws needed to win.”
A Laurinburg-native, Jacobs started playing softball at 9 years-old and was a member of one of the first Laurinburg Optimist softball squads. And from there, Jacobs became an anchor on one championship-caliber team after another, including finishing her 8th-grade year at Carver Middle School as part of a Southeastern Conference championship-winning lady Eagles squad.
And then her Marlboro Academy career began, which saw Jacobs obtain her greatest success to date in 2012. As a pitcher for the lady Dragons, Jacobs compiled a combined 18-3 record her junior year, notching 178 strikeouts over the course of 122 innings pitched, good for a 1.61 ERA. She proved equally potent from the batter’s box, as Jacobs firmly entrenched herself in the clean-up spot for Marlboro Academy and batted .455 with 35 hits (13 doubles, 2 triples and a home run), 17 runs scored and 36 RBIs.
Four of Jacobs’ wins came in the postseason during Marlboro Academy’s road to the SCISA state championship, where she went undefeated and allowed just five earned runs through 24 innings pitched. Jacobs pitched every inning of the championship series against Thomas Heyward, which saw the lady Dragons clinch the series in consecutive games by scores of 4-3 and 3-2.
“Bailey has truly exceeded my expectations in softball, and it has been wonderful to see her grow into a true talent,” said Marlboro Academy coach Scotty Jacobs, father of Bailey. “I never dreamed that she would get to this point, but through it all she has relied on the concept of team. I’m so happy to watch her fulfill her dream of playing college softball.”
Jacobs has one final season left at Marlboro Academy, and she has spent the offseason sorting through a slew of NCAA Division-1 and 2 collegiate programs that showed interest in her.
But her decision to sign with Florence-Darlington, a two-year college, stemmed from the career path she intends to follow when her student athlete career concludes: Jacobs wants to be an X-Ray Technician.
And fueled by the competitive fire that has defined her softball career up until this point, Jacobs sees the opportunity to join the Tech lady Stingers as an opportunity to hit the ground running right away.
“I had many opportunities to go to bigger programs, but I love to play softball and I don’t want to sit on the bench waiting for my shot,” Jacobs said. “I love the campus at Florence-Darlington, but the opportunity to keep playing softball and pursuing what I want to do with my career was all I really needed to hear.”