Carlee Wallace finds new life through baptism, softball

Volunteer assistant coach Gavin Daniels baptizes senior catcher Carlee Wallace at Huntington Beach on March 5. Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor

Baylor softball head coach Glenn Moore has won more than 800 games on the field in his career, 700 since he arrived in Waco 18 years ago.

However, while the team was in California participating in the Judi Garman Classic, Moore and the Baylor softball team experienced its greatest victory yet — the baptism of senior catcher Carlee Wallace.

“Coaching softball is my calling, to spread the Gospel in whatever way this platform allows me to,” Moore said. “It’s a huge victory to see her come to Christ and claim a greater victory than any championship.”

Wallace’s decision to venture out into the Pacific Ocean on a sunny California day at Huntington Beach did not happen overnight. Her need to declare a faith and calling to serve Christ was one that she could no longer ignore. Much like the biblical figure Jacob, who wrestled with God in Genesis, Wallace too had to wrestle with her creator.

“I always knew that God was there. I knew that we had a relationship, sort of, but I never really depended on him, prayed much, that kind of thing,” Wallace said. “When I was at Auburn [University], I went through some hard times. I would go and yell at God and say, ‘What are you doing? Why is this happening? Why can’t you help me?’ That kind of sparked it because I went to God for help.”

It was this inner turmoil that played a role in Wallace deciding to leave Auburn after three seasons with the Tigers, where she won 163 games and played in the Women’s College World Series twice, including the championship series against Oklahoma in 2016.

As successful as her time playing for the SEC powerhouse was, Wallace sensed that there was something greater out there for her. It was through a renewed dependence on prayer that Baylor entered the picture.

“I had really prayed about it, and I wanted to [come to Baylor]. I don’t care about any championship rings that I have or anything like that because what kind of person am I,” Wallace said. “I did research on Baylor, talked to Coach Moore. That’s when I knew that God wanted me to be here. The performance side of things is important, but I want to be a good person, so I think that that’s how my relationship with God got sparked.”

As the team went through the fall season and the calendar flipped over into spring, Wallace said she began to have thoughts of baptism and brought them up in conversation with Gavin Daniels, a sports ministry student at Truett Seminary and the team’s volunteer assistant coach.

“We were in Mississippi a couple weeks before we went to California. She mentioned in conversation about a book that she wanted to go through baptism and thought she was ready to be baptized, so we began conversation about it,” Daniels said. “I mentioned that we could do this in California, we can do this whenever, wherever if she wanted to, and let her know that we can do this through the team.”

So Daniels began to lead Wallace through the meaning of baptism, walking her through a Biblical understanding of baptism, focusing on Christ’s commandment in the gospel of Matthew where he instructs his disciples to go into all the nations, making disciples, teaching them to obey and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Wallace said this message of renewal and commitment to God’s greater purpose, as well as the imagery of being baptized in living water, was cool and that she couldn’t refuse.

Daniels, who is in his second season working with the team, is just one of several in the Truett pipeline that has helped cultivate a winning spiritual attitude as well continue the pattern of success on the softball field.

Former volunteer assistant coach and current McNeese State assistant coach Dani Price and Baylor director of softball operations Jon Graham are both Truett graduates. Baylor softball student managers Kyle Donohue of Fairfield, Calif. and Paige McCain of Fort Smith, Ark., are current Truett students.

Moore said that the youth and vitality that Price, Daniels and company have brought to the softball program has been extremely beneficial because they have been able to cultivate and encourage both winning in life through faith in Christ and on the field.

“We are surrounded with young people that connect well with our athletes. Age gap is not always a positive, so having young people as a part of our program allows us to make some connections that we might not be able to other wise,” Moore said. “We have great responsibility to go unto the world, and we do this on mission trips and God sends us athletes who are directly looking for him. That’s our purpose, and softball is our vehicle.”

With eternal victory in mind and softball as the vehicle, Wallace and Daniels ventured out into the cold Pacific Ocean as the waves tried desperately to spit them back out.

With her teammates looking on, as well as bystanders on the neighboring pier, Wallace, dead in sin, disappeared beneath the water and emerged a new creation — one raised to walk in the newness of life.

“This is the boldest proclamation of faith we’ve had in this program. We’ve had girls come to Christ and be baptized in their time in the program, but from what I’ve been told, this is the first baptism during the season, especially as a player being baptized by one of the coaches,” Daniels said. “We’re very open to the work of the Holy Spirit, and we strive to be led by Christ and to make Christ evident and known. We’re here to build, not just softball players, but there’s a greater purpose to life and having that avenue there for people and letting them know faith is the greatest victory ever.”

Faith runs deep in the Baylor softball veins; it is embedded in its very DNA. Wallace’s decision to step out in faith is an example of that culture, which embraces and proclaims a lifestyle that seeks something greater than earthly glory.

“We don’t have to lose who we are just to win. It’s hard to balance a winning philosophy and a winning culture with having good people as well,” Wallace said. “We’re trying to win a crown and a ring of this world, but what we’re really after is the eternal crown that’s not of this world. I think that’s helped me with my play, because if I don’t play good, it’s like okay, well I still after that eternal crown. And now that I’ve accepted Jesus, I have that eternal crown.”