Bailee Noland is a girl of many words, many talents, and many goals.

She recently wrapped up her third year on the Hermiston Bulldogs softball team — the team’s debut in the Washington’s Mid-Columbia Conference. And in that first year, the HHS junior was named to the MCC’s all-conference first team as a utility player. A pitcher, a catcher, and a big hitter, she is also this year’s East Oregonian Player of the Year.

“We did so much in one year,” Noland said of her team. “Next year, I know we can take it all the way. It’ll be really emotional. We’re graduating seven players. It’ll be a year to remember.”

Teammates Sydney Stefani, Grace Studer, Daisy Maddox and Samantha Atilano join Noland on the the first team. Mac-Hi’s Sydney Earls, Rikki Mark and Kiley Reichert, Weston-McEwen’s McKenna Stallings, and Pendleton’s Aspen Garton and Kila Solomon also fill out the roster.

Pendleton’s Tim Cary was named Coach of the Year.

Although a championship was not in the cards this year, the Bucks went 17-10 overall and 9-6 for their Intermountain Conference debut, placing third in the standings. They dropped a 9-3 quarterfinal game to West Albany to end their season. The state title would go the IMC’s own Ridgeview Ravens.

“We had a good year in a tough league,” Cary said. “We came into the season with a fairly young group of players in key spots. They all stepped up to the occasion. The success of our program came from having all the right coaches in the right spots from top to bottom. I’m very fortunate to have a great community of people willing to commit to Pendleton softball.”

Leading the pack

As a player who is well-versed in multiple positions, Noland was 10-5 on the mound with a 4.06 ERA. She boasted a 2-1 strike to walk ratio, and collected 56 strikeouts over 88 innings of work.

At the plate, she led the Bulldogs with 46 hits and a .575 average with 31 singles, five doubles, one triple, and nine home runs. She scored 30 runs and drove in 35 more. She struck out just nine times over 80 at-bats, and on the field, she only committed two errors in 27 games.

“Bailee is a rock star kid,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said. “She’s very selfless. She always does what is best for her team. She’s played a lot of big roles, and isn’t afraid to take on new ones. Her attitude is contagious. The team wants to play good for her.”

After Southridge beat Hermiston 4-2 in the District 8 championships, the Bulldogs made a 1-2 run at the state title, ending their season with another 4-2 loss — this time to Snohomish.

“We didn’t know Southridge would show up to that last game,” Noland said. “We thought we’d blow it away and get the title. It was a season of ups and downs, but we came together by the end.”

Going for the Gold

Noland’s softball season didn’t end with Hermiston. She’s been spending her summer with the Washington Angels — an 18U Gold legion team that features players from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

“The Angels have a lot of different girls with different talents,” Noland said. “We play against tougher teams. Hermiston was good, but the girls on the Angels are better than I am. It makes me want to be better. I don’t like to hype myself up. The Angels opened my eyes to my potential.”

The Angels play year-round, only taking breaks for the sake of winter, and the prep softball season. During the next three months, Noland and her team will travel to tournaments in Colorado, Southern California, and Arizona. They’ll also compete in the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Qualifier in Las Vegas — a city Noland has had her eye on for some time.

“I’m excited,” she said of her upcoming Vegas tournament. “The school I want to go to is down there.”

Although she has yet to start her senior year, Noland already knows she wants to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she’ll study to become a dental hygienist.

“I just like teeth,” she said. “It’s good to help people with their teeth. A smile makes a good first impression. And I’m a pretty funny person — I like to make people laugh.”

Looking ahead

Softball and dentistry aren’t Noland’s only career aspirations. While they are the priority, she is also considering joining the Marines.

“I still have interest in the Marines,” she said. “It takes a lot of courage. You have to be a bad-ass. I want to go to college and pursue softball, but if something happens and I don’t, I’ll join the Marines.”

But before collegiate softball, a dental degree, or the Marines, she still has another season with the Angels ahead. And after that — one last hurrah with the Dawgs.

Despite her nonstop schedule, Noland won’t let anything come between herself and her aspirations.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m burned out, but I know I’d regret it if I stopped,” she said. “If I choose not to go to practice one day, that’s one day I could have worked toward my goal of making Division I.”

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