Baily Riggin insists she tried. She really did. Even gave it a couple of weeks to sink in.
But she just couldn’t do it.
And it may be the only thing the East Valley High School fastpitch softball program has asked of her that she could not do.
She just can’t stop calling her coach, Ray Riggin, “Daddy.”
“He’s my daddy – what else am I going to call him?” she laughs. “When he first came to East Valley to be our coach, he asked my sister (Allie) and me to call him ‘Coach’ when we were at practice and during games. I guess he wanted everyone to think that we were all the same, that he wasn’t playing favorites. But it just didn’t feel right, calling him Coach.”
And rather than cause friction on the team, the senior catcher insists the father-daughter relationship is part of what makes the team’s chemistry work.
“We’re a pretty young team this year,” Baily explained. “I’m not the only senior on the team, but I am the only one with varsity experience and I’m a four-year starter. They all know he’s my dad and I think they like the fact that I treat him like he’s my dad and that he gives me a hug before and after a game.”
The 2011 season has been a special one for both Riggins.
Baily is the last of the family’s four kids to play ball at East Valley. Brett, the eldest, played baseball at EV before going on to play at Spokane Falls Community College. Four years ago, under coach Kurt Krauth, the Knights started three Riggin sisters across the infield: freshman Baily at third base, senior Ryleigh at pitcher and sophomore Allie at first.
“Now it’s just the two of us,” Ray says. “Our two oldest have grown up and are married now and Allie is in college.”
Finally playing her natural position, Riggin carries a potent bat, hitting well over .500 in the school’s first season in the Great Northern League. Defensively she’s helped her pitcher, junior Hunter Allen, become one of the league’s top hurlers while throwing out well over half the runners attempting to steal a base on the Knights.
When you have pitchers in the family (both Brett and Ryleigh pitched for the Knights), it’s only natural that one of the younger siblings becomes a catcher.
“At first I wanted to be a pitcher,” Baily said. “I liked watching my brother pitch and I wanted to be just like him. But my mom (Donna) is the one that talked me into being the catcher, and I’m glad she did.”
It’s natural that the children of coaches learn to become students of the game, and Baily Riggin has learned a great deal.
“I like that the whole game is in front of you,” she said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m cocky or anything, but I really do like being in charge on the field. I like moving players and calling plays.”
She just hasn’t always been able to play the position at East Valley. Through her four years in the program, the team has had several good catchers. A natural athlete who can play any number of positions well, Baily always consented to move to a different position to help the team.
“I like that I can play a lot of different positions,” she said. “I played third base when I was a freshman. I really want to coach someday, just like my dad, and I think it will really help me – knowing what it’s like to play all these different positions.”
While she carries on the family’s love affair with all games involving balls and bats (she still has two more seasons of eligibility to play summer league fastpitch, her father is quick to point out), Baily’s passion is music.
Already she’s sung the national anthem at big events: Spokane Chiefs hockey games and at the United States Figure Skating Championships at the Spokane Arena. Eastern Washington University has awarded her a scholarship to study music at Cheney next year. She turned down an offered recording contract, preferring to concentrate on finishing high school.
“I might someday want to go to Nashville to see what I can do there,” Baily said. “I’m a country girl – I love country and bluegrass music and that’s where you need to go if you want to break in the music business. That’s the dream, and you have to follow your dreams.”
Her dad, understandably, is her biggest fan.
“I hate to say this, but she can really bring a tear to my eye when she sings,” he admits. “She has a wonderful voice and I love to listen to her sing.
“But it’s not just me. She’s gotten a couple different scholarships for her singing. She sings in a couple different groups around town and she stays really busy with that. She works hard to balance her school work, her softball and her singing.”
Baily said she envisions a future where she continues to balance softball and singing.
“I sometimes think that what I want to do most is to become a high school music teacher by day and coach the school’s softball team every spring,” she laughs. “I do plan to coach softball – I want to be just like my dad. And I love music and I think I would enjoy working with young singers.
“I think that would make me very happy.”
It would make her already proud dad happy as well.