Kemper County native Brittany Baty snags a throw to first during warmups for the Lady Bobcats of JCJC.

School photo
Kemper County native Brittany Baty snags a throw to first during warmups for the Lady Bobcats of JCJC. School photo

The Meridian Star

Walking away from something that’s been familiar for so long isn’t always the easiest task, but sometimes it’s the wisest one.

Jones County Junior College softball player Brittany Baty, a Northeast Lauderdale alumna, did just that when she retired after her sophomore season in May to focus on a nursing career.

“I ended up getting some offers from a couple colleges, but I decided to come back to Meridian Community College and go into the nursing program,” Baty, 20, said. “I decided to hang it up and focus on school.”

Baty is the daughter of Shane and Elisa Baty of DeKalb and granddaughter of Larry and Grace Gibson of DeKalb and Charles Caperton of Meridian.

The past two seasons at Jones County couldn’t have been scripted any better for Baty, as the Lady Bobcats won 105 games and played in back-to-back national championships during that time. And although Jones County was bested by LSU-Eunice in both national championship contests, the experience for Baty, she said, was surreal.

“It was a great feeling,” she said. “Coming from Northeast and never winning a state championship, knowing how it feels from winning regionals to coming second in the nation is an awesome feeling knowing that all your hard work paid off.”

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact she didn’t win any championships in high school, but Baty, an infielder, played with a chip on her shoulder when she arrived in Ellisville. Last season she batted .424 in 59 games, belting a nation’s third-best 21 home runs and her 75 RBIs placed her at ninth nationally. After a 55-4 season, she landed on a number of All-American lists and was named the National Tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

But anyone who paid attention to her numbers her first year at Jones County should hardly be surprised. As a freshman, Baty batted .363, hit 20 home runs (eighth nationally) and recorded 76 RBIs (10th nationally) in 55 games.

Despite her instantaneous success, she said the initial degree of difficulty from high school to college was steep.

“It was different because you went to a team where everybody is on your level,” she said. “(The talent level) was 10 times better.”

After enjoying two years of NJCAA success, Baty was presented with a difficult decision. Her statistics made her a commodity to four-year programs, but throughout the season, despite the winning, she began to examine options outside of softball, a sport she’s played for 15 years.

“Just over the course of the season I thought about it a lot, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” she said. “It was a very hard decision to make. You’ve played your whole life, and (you’re) finally stopping. I felt like I need to focus more on school than trying to play another two years.”

Baty received the support of her parents and cemented her decision in May. She knows it won’t be easy, especially during the season when former teammates and friends plaster their softball pictures on social media, but she remains comfortable with her decision and is excited to embark on a new chapter in life.

“Right now, I’m just trying to stay busy, so it hasn’t really hit me,” she said. “I’m sure it will hit me more when it gets closer to the season and when I see everybody else post pictures, or when (I) talk to them about what they’re doing. But right now, I’m OK with it.”