Village News Reporter
Fallbrook High School senior Baylee Howley, whose ancestry includes a grandfather born in the Philippines, will once again play for the Filipino national youth softball team during the Triple Crown International Challenge tournament.
"We're super excited to go back and do even better than we did before," Howley said.
This year's tournament will be held June 24-26 in Westminster, Colorado. Team Philippines began the 2021 tournament with three victories before a 1-0 loss to Mexico eliminated the Filipino squad. Howley, who is a catcher, played in the game against Mexico and also played against Great Britain, driving in two runners with a double in that game to contribute to the 16-4 Team Philippines win. In her two games, Howley threw out two runners trying to advance to second base.
Howley is a lifelong Fallbrook resident who was born at Fallbrook Hospital on May 17, 2004. She attended Frazier Elementary School and Potter Junior High School prior to her Fallbrook High School years. Howley began her softball playing career with the Fallbrook Girls Softball organization when she was 8.
She then played for Oceanside Fast Pitch before beginning travel ball with The Factory, which is based in Rancho Bernardo. Howley has played travel ball for six years and is currently with the Athletics Mercado club, which practices in Murrieta.
Howley made the 2019 Fallbrook High School varsity softball team as a freshman and was the Warriors' starting catcher. The Valley League coaches named Howley to the all-league second team. The coronavirus outbreak shut down the 2020 season after five games, and since no league competition occurred, there were no all-league awards.
Although Fallbrook had a Valley League record of 0-10 in 2021, the Valley League coaches chose Howley for the all-league first team and she was mentioned in the discussion for the league player of the year award.
Howley batted .511 for the season, including non-league games, with 24 hits in 47 at-bats. Eight of her hits were doubles and three were home runs. She scored 17 runs, had 12 runs batted in, stole 11 bases, and drew 10 walks. She only struck out three times in 58 plate appearances (she was hit by a pitch once). Howley had a .603 on-base percentage and a slugging average of .872. She also pitched in five games, hurling 11 2/3 innings with a 6.60 earned run average. On the mound, Howley struck out eight batters.
Fallbrook's 2022 softball season ended May 12 with a 6-5 loss at Ramona. The Warriors' league record was 2-8 and Fallbrook had an 8-14 overall mark. Howley batted .534 in 18 games with 31 hits in 58 at-bats. Her hits included 13 doubles, two triples, and a home run.
She scored 26 runs, had seven runs batted in, and stole eight bases. Howley also reached base eight times by a walk and once as a hit batter, and in her 67 plate appearances she only struck out twice. She had 16 assists in addition to 107 putouts while catching.
Howley, who also played basketball in junior high school, was on Fallbrook High School's junior varsity basketball team as a freshman and a sophomore. The coronavirus shutdown delayed the start of the 2020-21 CIF seasons, so basketball and softball were played concurrently and Howley was not in the Warriors' basketball program as a junior. Howley was on the 2021-22 basketball varsity as a senior.
In March 2021, Howley learned that tryouts for the Filipino youth national softball team would be held the following month in Chino and that the youth national team was seeking a catcher. There was no 2020 international tournament due to the coronavirus shutdown, so 10 girls who had been selected for that year's Filipino youth national team were automatically given berths for the 2021 international tournament and between 50 and 60 girls sought 10 additional roster positions.
Four days after the tryout, Howley was notified that she had been selected for the team. Howley was one of four San Diego County players who played for Team Philippines in the 2021 Triple Crown International Challenge tournament.
Her 2022 Filipino national youth team selection was announced in March. "Most returners were back," Howley said.
Howley doesn't consider her second selection less exciting than her first. "It was probably the same," she said.
"It's very exciting to go back with the same people, and I'm excited to go back and make another statement there," Howley said. "The Philippines are coming out again."
Jennifer Stewart returns as the coach of the Filipino national youth team. Stewart now will also be coaching the all-ages Filipino national team. "I have to get my dual citizenship," Howley said. "That gives me an opportunity to try out for the Olympics in the future."
On Feb. 5, Howley signed a letter of intent to play softball at the University of North Dakota, so she will likely be playing college softball just prior to the 2024 Olympic Games which will be held in France.