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By: Tim Taylor | Waverly Athletics | February 9, 2023


WAVERLY — Bryce Bailey’s baseball career has included stints at two strong high school programs and the influence of several former standouts.

The Waverly senior will have a chance to take all he’s learned and apply it at Salem University, an NCAA Division II program in West Virginia.

Bailey signed his National Letter of Intent Thursday, making him a Tiger once again.

Bailey knew instantly that Salem was where he wanted to swing his bat.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, I loved it. I visited three or four to five schools and I liked some of them. Salem just really stuck out to me. The coaching staff's phenomenal. They just made me feel like family. I fit in really great with the players that I met, so I'm just really excited.”

He played at Tioga from 7th through 10th grade before coming back to the Wolverines as a junior. His days on the diamond have offered him the opportunity to learn from some of the top former players in the Valley — Tom Hendershot, Marc Felt and Taylor Skerpon.

Hendershot was a standout at Sayre during the 1980s while Felt and Skerpon starred at Athens and Sayre, respectively, within the last 15 years. Also included in the mix is Brendon Hitchcock, a Wyalusing star who coached at Athens before joining the Waverly staff with Felt and Skerpon.

The variety of coaches Bailey has worked with can only be a plus when he gets to Salem.

“Mr. Hendershot was huge, especially with the off-season training, and then Mr. (Kevin) Evanek over at Tioga, he was an awesome coach. I love that guy. He's a great friend to me now, even after I left, but now I’ve got Skerp and all those guys, and (Kyle) McDuffee, Marc, Hitchcock especially. Hitchcock, probably one of the best hitting coaches around and especially him being a lefty, it really just equates to helping me out even more.”

When he transferred back to Waverly, Bailey made his presence known right off the bat, so to speak.

“The minute he started with the program, he came in with a mission,” McDuffee said. “He came in and hustled. He felt that he needed to let everyone know this is who he is, which he didn't have to, because his actions speak for themselves.

“From the first practice, to taking on a wall in sectionals to catch a foul ball, that's how he goes all out, and I think when he gets to the next level, they're going to be really impressed with him. He's a true gritty baseball player, that's what he is, and he's coachable.

“That's the thing. As kids get to be seniors, maybe a little older, they're a little bit harder to coach, but this guy here is absolutely coachable. He's a sponge. He works with coach Skerpon, he works with coach Hitchcock, Felt, and they're always doing things, just making little adjustments and he's open to that.

“I think that's an amazing athlete right there and we're going to miss him, obviously, next year when he is gone. It’s going to be hard shoes to fill, but I think this year I want people to pay attention, because I think they're going to be really amazed with the things that he's going to accomplish throughout the season.”

Bailey was the top outfielder in both the IAC and Tioga County last year, earning IAC South Large School and All-Tioga County first-team accolades.

He hit .460 last season after moving up in classification.

As a sophomore, Bailey led Tioga with a .514 batting average (18-for-35) and earned the first of two All-IAC first team honors.

Like he is with baseball, Bailey is also comfortable with numbers and will study accounting at Salem.

“I'm pretty good with numbers and I talked to Skerp about it,” he said. “He went into the accounting field and he sort of just kind of explained everything, and I kind of liked everything that I heard about it, so I'm going to go that route and hopefully stick with it.

“I'm really excited to finish off this year and hopefully bring home a state title, and play baseball for the next four years.

“I can't thank my coaches enough for everything they've done for me, “and thank, especially mom and dad, for everything financially, and helping with everything. They will always be my number one supporters.”