The game may have been more than two weeks old, but the result still stung.
Burlington Township High School junior Bailey Enoch looked like she had just bitten into a lemon as she briefly revisited the game played two Fridays earlier at the field just across the parking lot from the Falcons’ gym. Burlington Township hung right with Steinert, the defending Group 3 state champ (and defending Tournament of Champions champ, too). The Falcons out-hit the central Jersey power.
But the game’s only run came on a sixth-inning home run, a home run Enoch watched from her spot in the middle of the circle. It was just the second home run she allowed all season.
“It’s unfortunate,” Enoch said. “We were on (the opposing pitcher). We were scouting her a little and saw she had 17 strikeouts in a game and double-digit strikeouts often, so I was really proud of us. We didn’t strike out as much as I thought we would and I thought we were making really good adjustments throughout the game.”
The sour taste of losing in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals to Steinert for the second straight season will subside eventually or, perhaps, turn into the fuel that gets Enoch and the Falcons over the top during her senior season in 2020.
What the one game on a Friday afternoon in May will not do is take away from the brilliant season Enoch put together in total in her third year as a varsity starting pitcher.
Enoch struck out 16 in a no-hitter in the first game of the season against New Egypt. She threw another no-no against Bordentown, a Group 1 state finalist, two weeks later.
Enoch finished her junior season 11-3 with a microscopic 0.62 ERA and 159 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 15 appearances. Opponents hit .153 with a .227 on-base percentage against the Falcons ace.
For her efforts, Enoch is the South Jersey Sports Weekly 2019 Softball Player of the Year.
“I think it’s a lot of hard work paying off,” said Enoch, who verbally committed to Fordham University in December. “The awards are not a necessity but always nice to have. It’s an honor.”
— mackenzie fitzpatrick (@mackenziefitz_) April 2, 2019
The six-foot-tall Enoch has her parents, Donald and Kristie, to thank for her athletic genes.
Her mom was a star field hockey player at Camden Catholic and played collegiately at Shippensburg University while her dad pitched at Delran High School and Mercer County Community College. Don Enoch was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school but opted to go to college.
Her father might not know how to throw a rise ball or generate power underhanded, but he surely knows how to attack hitters, game plan, and master the mental side of the game as a pitcher, all skills he’s passed along to his only daughter.
“He’d teach me how to get out of tough situations,” Enoch said. “Whenever he would see me having a rough time and he was my coach, he’d come out and ask stupid questions to get my mind off my pitching.”
Along with her sheer talent as a pitcher, Enoch’s mental maturity and feel for the game are among her strong suits as a team leader at Burlington Township.
“She’s quick to see something,” Burlington Township coach Nicolette Cannizzaro said of Enoch’s softball acumen. “If we’re running a drill and someone forgot to cover or didn’t tag up correctly, she’s definitely watching. She holds a lot of the underclassmen accountable when it comes to that stuff, she wants to raise the bar of her teammates.”
Before she completes her high school athletic career, one that’s also seen her contributing to the soccer and basketball programs at Burlington Township, Enoch is ready for the entire softball program to raise the bar next spring. After coming a win away from playing for a sectional championship in each of the last two seasons, Enoch has a singular goal.
“(Fellow junior) Anaya Hunte and I were just talking about it: we’re winning our section, no matter what,” said Enoch, who also hit .327 with a .514 OBP and 21 runs in 20 games. “We’re so ready to do it. It’s been building up and we’re so ready. … We’ve been waiting so long and getting let down so much, as seniors next year we’re going to really take over and push the program toward winning from the start. We’re going to do everything we can to accomplish this goal.”
Over the next two weeks, South Jersey Sports Weekly will be honoring the best
athletes from each of the 10 spring sports as well as the best male and female teams
of the season. The selections were made from a collection of high school athletes
from the 20 towns and approximately two dozen schools within SJSW’s Sun Newspaper coverage area. Each of the Player of the Year and Team of the Year stories will appear in
either the June 19 issue or June 26 issue of South Jersey Sports Weekly.
Congrats Bailey! South Jersey Girls Softball Association allstar award recipient. Congrats to the softball program for also receiving this seasons sportsmanship award! Go Falcons!! @bthsathletics @BtCannizzaro @BTRoman1 pic.twitter.com/4vM4AORm1I
— BTHS Softball (@BTHSSoftball1) June 12, 2019