O’Dell leaves mark during final season

Sean Hastings, Staff Reporter

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Senior shortstop Bailey O’Dell had an incredible final year as a Panther and has been named “Female Athlete of the Year” by The Daily Eastern News staff.

Coming into her final year as a Pan- ther, O’Dell wanted to make this year really count.

“I just wanted to do well and go out with a bang,” O’Dell said. “This is my last year playing softball ever. I wanted it to be a memorable year.”

During her standout season, O’Dell broke the Eastern record for home runs with 10. O’Dell and the rest of the Pan- thers will be in the Ohio Valley Confer- ence tournament this week so she will have a chance to add to it.

O’Dell has led the Panthers’ offense for much of the season along with fel- low senior Hannah Cole.

O’Dell is hitting .340 going into the conference tournament. Her 10 home runs lead the team. She also leads the team in runs batted in with 39 and runs scored with 30.

She and Cole are tied with 49 hits on the year.

Not only does O’Dell lead the Pan- thers in those categories, she is also in the top 10 in multiple categories in the OVC.

She is in the top 10 for runs batted in, doubles, slugging percentage and home runs.

She feels she has definitely improved her hitting since her junior year.

“From this year to last year, my hit- ting I feel like has been better,” O’Dell said. “I’ve never really been ‘the home run hitter’ and this is the most I’ve ever hit in any of my seasons I’ve had any- where.”

O’Dell’s top game came when she went 3-for-4 and drove in five runs against conference rival Austin Peay.

She said being a senior gave her a lit- tle extra motivation for this season.

“Being a senior, this is it,” O’Dell said. “This is the last thing you’re go- ing to remember. You’re not going to re

member every little detail of your fresh- man, sophomore, and junior year. Senior year you’re going to remember a little bit more.”

All season long O’Dell was contributing at the plate, whether it was get-ting a timely base hit and driving in a run, or scoring a run, and especially hit- ting those big home runs.

“Hitting a home run in crucial situations, I’ve never been like that,” O’Dell said. “I’m usually just a base-hit hitter and when I can hit that home run when we need it, that’s probably the best feeling you can get.”

This was O’Dell’s year to leave her

mark at Eastern. She sure did that with her hitting, but she also wanted to leave behind a little bit more.

“Just for them to look up to me and think ‘I want to be like her,’ not even just as a softball player but as a person. I just want to be that role model,” O’Dell said.

She said that is something she has al- ways wanted and hopes she has done it for the younger players below her.

O’Dell has only two more guaran- teed games left as the OVC tournament is double elimination, and she just wants to make the most of it and go out with a “bang.”

“I just want to know that I left it all out on the field and give it my all,” O’Dell said. “I don’t want to look back and regret anything.”

O’Dell has left her mark on junior April Markowski.

“Bailey has always stayed so calm and relaxed through all situations,” Markowski said. “That will help me.”

Markowski is only one year younger than O’Dell but still looks up to her. “She is my best friend on and off the

field,” Markowski said. “I think she is great leader. A lot of people look up to her and can always count on her.”

This past weekend O’Dell was honored alongside Cole on Senior Day, and the Panthers were able to win the game against conference rival Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Edwardsville is the top team in the OVC.

O’Dell said it was a day full of emotions, but it will be something she re- members for the rest of her life.

O’Dell’s bat and leadership will be missed next season, but everything she has done for the team will stick with her and her teammates for seasons to come.

 

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]