UTM’s Bain chooses wisely in softball … and life
Posted: Friday, May 4, 2012 12:00 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
It’s the same routine between every pitch.
Stepping out of the batter’s box, she makes the sign of the cross with her bat. Top-to-bottom, right-to-left. Every pitch.
That’s who Jenny Bain is now, who she has become since coming to UT Martin, being introduced to Fellowship of Christian Athletes and discovering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I came to know Christ in college,” she said. “That’s been the biggest impact — not only in my life but for the team as well. As a team, I feel the heart is in God. I think that’s why we’re successful. That’s what you want as a team, for everyone to know Jesus. We all do, and we love it.”
Bain, who came to Martin from Hendersonville, is a senior for the Skyhawk softball team. Since earning a starting spot in her second game as a freshman, she has helped UTM to an NCAA Tournament appearance, two Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles and 154 wins.
UT Martin clinched the 2012 OVC championship and the right to host the league tournament on Saturday and will close the regular season this weekend at Jacksonville State.
UTM has played 230 games since Bain’s freshman season of 2009. She has started 229 with the Skyhawks posting a 154-76 record in that time.
Playing — and winning — a lot of games is nothing new to Bain, coming off a four-year prep career during which the Lady Commandos posted a 148-60 record. As a senior at Hendersonville, Bain led the team in runs, home runs and RBI. She’s the school’s career leader in doubles, homers and RBI.
Added to that was her time with the Nashville Cruisers summer team, which became the first non-California team to win a national championship in 2007.
She came to UTM as a second baseman but switched to shortstop when the Skyhawks’ starter at the position developed arm trouble. A simple flip-flop of positions kept the teammate in the lineup and launched Bain’s college career.
“She’s durable, strong in her legs, takes care of her body,” UTM head coach Donley Canary said. “She goes to training room and gets maintenance on her shoulder regularly.”
In her first three seasons at UTM, Bain batted .312 with 178 hits, 112 runs and 116 RBI. She hit 39 doubles and 32 home runs.
This season, Bain is hitting .309 with 27 runs and 44 RBI. She’s doubled 12 times and homered six, both team-highs. She leads the OVC with 15 multi-hit games and had a league-best 14-game hitting streak.
Bain’s name is all over the UTM record book as the all-time leader in runs, homers, ribbies, total bases, walks and doubles.
In a sport where regular season crowds are measured in the dozens rather than the thousands, hard work in practice is not enough. Bain has reached her level through self-motivation.
“To play college softball, it’s not a glamorous sport, at least not at a mid-major,” Canary said. “For all the work that goes into it, you probably get a nickel an hour. If you really want to be good, it’s what you do before practice and after practice that makes a difference. I’m talking about the weight-lifting, the conditioning, the practicing your position. Jenny’s a competitor.”
And, it almost never happened.
Bain verbally committed to Austin Peay, but more scholarship money freed up from UTM and she became a Skyhawk instead.
“Best decision I’ve ever made in my life,” she said.
It was that decision that led Bain to another one. Going into the spring semester of her freshman year, Bain went to an FCA camp.
A regular church-goer her senior year in high school, Bain admits that she didn’t really understand what a relationship with God meant.
“When I got to college, there were faithful teammates and members of other teams here who kept pushing me to FCA,” she said. “There was something about FCA that had a spark in me, so through FCA camp is how my life started. I went to FCA camp the start of the spring semester of my freshman year, and I gave my life to Christ. Since then, I’ve been with organization.”
Bain’s faith was tested immediately. About a week after her baptism, her family home back in Hendersonville was destroyed by fire.
While Bain had most of her belongings in Martin, she didn’t have a home when she returned for the summer break.
“It’s funny how Satan tries to tear you down when God is building you up,” Bain said. “It was through my teammates that I was able to get through that time in my life.
“It’s cool, because God worked through that.”
Because of her faith, Bain had the strength to make it through that tragedy. Her strength now comes out as a team leader.
“Jenny’s had a lot of personal growth since she’s been here, from being an 18-year-old freshman to nearly 22 and a senior,” Canary said. “She’s really matured in her life, and she holds her teammates accountable for what they do. As a coach, I really appreciate that.”
Her influence has reached all the way back home. Ciera Graham, a current member of the Hendersonville softball team and a family friend, lists Bain as her role model.
After graduation, Bain will return home and work with the FCA leadership staff in her hometown.
Bain’s reach will soon stretch around the globe. After college, she will use softball to share the gospel on a trip to China.
She’ll find the surface at home plates there sufficient for her routine as well.
Top-to-bottom, right-to-left. Every pitch. Published in The WCP 5.3.12