Wesleyan’s Bailiff signs with UNCA
One of his coaches once used the saying: You’ll be a former player much longer than you’ll be a player. Ben Bailiff, a senior catcher at Wesleyan Christian Academy, has taken that to heart.
A baseball player for as long as he can remember, Bailiff realizes the dedication it takes to be successful and has put forth the hard work to achieve his goal of playing college baseball, signing with NCAA Division I UNC Asheville to continue his career.
“It feels great,” says Bailiff, the son of Barry and Angela of Trinity, of signing. “It’s a lot of stress relief because I’ve wanted to play college baseball for pretty much all my life. So, it feels really great.”
Joining the Trojans prior to his junior season, he has quickly grown into a college-caliber player behind the plate, helping Wesleyan reach the NCISAA 3A state championship series last year and set the expectations high again this year.
“Ben, as a catcher, is a really good receiver,” Wesleyan coach Scott Davis says. “He’s outstanding at keeping our pitchers in rhythm. And he’s starting to hit the ball a little bit. Last year, we DH’ed for him a little, but he’s coming around.
“But he’s just a really, really good receiver back there and he keeps our pitchers calm and relaxed. So, I think he’ll be a good asset for their program as he continues to develop his skills.”
Bailiff, following in the footsteps of his dad, who played baseball at Guilford College, has grown up playing baseball. Over the years, he has always been a solid player, but as he’s gotten older, he’s realized the work it takes to reach the highest levels.
“Ever since I was born, it’s kind of been my thing,” he says. “I just kind of grew up into it. I guess it’s just the love of the game. I just get into it and have fun with it. … In my seventh- and eighth-grade years I was still a little shaky.
“Then freshman year I realized that, if you work and get better, then you can make things happen. It was just stepping up to that expectation and that work level of being a college-bound athlete. That’s what did it.”
While some players who play a sport from such an early age fight burnout in high school, Bailiff has always wanted to continue playing baseball. He’s never had that feeling of wanting to give up and has continued to put forth the effort.
“I’ve always wanted to go as far as I can,” he says. “I guess I just love the game that much, and playing the game just makes me happy and makes me excited for the game.”
UNC Asheville, where Ragsdale’s Mitch Carstens, Ledford’s Brian and Erik Connolly, Glenn’s Justin Hunt and Southwest Guilford’s Andrew Madden also play, saw him play while he was with the Golden Spikes.
Bailiff, who also considered Gardner-Webb and Francis Marion, liked the feel of the small campus as well as the baseball program and chose the Bulldogs, of the Big South Conference, to continue his playing career.
“It feels great. It’s always been my expectation and my goal to reach this point, and it feels really good,” says Bailiff, who wants to study health and wellness. “Now I’m just ready to get there and keep working and go as far as I can.”