Bainbridge High didn’t have too look far or long to find its next varsity softball head coach.
The school hired 2010 graduate Haylee Baker, a member of the 2009 Class 3A title team and assistant coach last season. Baker replaces Liz McCloskey, who stepped down after 11 seasons coaching the Spartans. During McCloskey’s tenure, the Spartans went to state every year starting in 2006-07, and finished second in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s huge,” Baker said of her first full-time head coaching job. “It’s a real honor. I’m really excited to take on the torch.”
Baker said it was to her benefit to assist with the team last year as it gave her a refresher on how McCloskey ran the team.
“I did get to develop a good relationship and rapport with all the girls,” she said.
Baker was a standout during her four-year career at Bainbridge. A shortstop and pitcher, Baker was a four-time, first-team All-State and All-Metro League selection. After helping the Spartans win the state championship her junior year, she led them back to the title game her senior year. She was named the ML MVP as a pitcher, where Bainbridge finished second. She hit .450 with six home runs.
Baker went on to star at Bellevue Community College under Leah Francis for two years. She was named an All-NWAC All-American and the NWAC MVP in 2012 when she hit .455 with 54 RBIs, 13 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 60 runs scored before signing to play for Western Washington University.
While at Western, Baker started all 45 she played as a junior in 2013 (she chose to focus on earning her Bachelor Arts in Communications degree her senior year), hitting .228 with 14 runs scored and 13 RBI and had a .906 fielding percentage.
Baker said she’s looking forward to practice starting and getting the players on the field.
“From the girls that we do have, we have a lot of talent coming in,” she said. “We have a couple good freshmen (and) one promising pitcher. My biggest goal is just to continue building on relationships with the girls and building on their trust. I think this year that is my main focus.”