By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
Nicky Dawson is as fiery a leader as they come. The senior center fielder has been a staple of Baylor softball since she transferred from LSU as a sophomore. But this season, in the midst of a pandemic, Dawson has raised her game and leadership to a new level.
A member of the 2019 All-Big 12 second team, Dawson entered last season with high expectations. But due to many circumstances out of her control, she wasn’t able to meet them. The Baton Rouge, La., native missed 14 games due to injury. When she played, she was brilliant, hitting a career-high .385 batting average. The problem was she only played 10 games.
Dawson is determined to make the most of her senior season, and so far, she has. Through 16 games, Dawson has set another career-high in batting average, hitting .394. Dawson is also the owner of a hitting streak that spanned seven games earlier this season.
The senior also broke the Baylor record for number of career triples in the game against Louisiana Tech, hitting her 10th. Dawson has been hitting the ball so well this season that she said she needs to be more patient at the plate.
“I’m seeing the ball really well, and sometimes that can be scary because you want to hit everything,” Dawson said. “I’ve got to be patient and really think about passing the bat. Coach Moore talks a lot about starting things off good and how that’s contagious. My goal is to get on base, and hopefully that transfers from batter to batter.”
What’s even more incredible is that Dawson has been performing with a disability her whole collegiate career. Dawson is legally blind in her right eye, only able to see things that are right in front of her.
“It’s crazy to think about, but she does it and does it well,” said senior first baseman Goose McGlaun. “That’s tough to do obviously, and we don’t know what that is like. I just think that speaks to her that she’s going to overcome anything that’s sent her way.”
While Dawson has stepped up at the plate, she’s also stepped up in the locker room in a major way. Dawson’s reaction to Baylor’s loss to Ole Miss says it all after the Bears allowed seven runs in the final two innings to lose 10-4.
“That initially makes our blood boil a little bit,” Dawson said. “This game was tough. There were a few plays that maybe if we just execute a little better, the game’s a lot closer … We fell apart and also beat ourselves. That’s the hard part. Hopefully, we remember this feeling and use it to motivate us for the rest of the year.”
Dawson and her teammates did use the loss as motivation, as the Bears responded with a 10-0 drumming of Lamar. Just two games later, Dawson turned in one of the biggest performances of her career, accumulating four hits in four at-bats against No. 25 Mississippi State to lead the Bears to their first ranked win of the season 10-6. Head coach Glenn Moore described Dawson’s response to the big win, praising the way she and the team persevered.
“In our postgame meeting, Nicky talked about how we constantly responded,” Moore said. “If they scored, we would come back and score and certainly took it personal in our backyard. We needed to see that out of this team. It’s early, and there was no reason to panic.”
With Dawson at the helm, Baylor has started off the season 16-4 and is in the midst of a six-game winning streak. If Dawson and the Bears keep it up, the Big 12 championship could very well end up in Waco.