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After a year off, Tarboro grad and NCWC signee Babb finds her way back to softball

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Tarboro's Helena Babb, seen here pitching in 2016, has committed to play softball at N.C. Wesleyan. Babb took a year off from the sport after graduating in 2018, and was ushered back to the circle by a Bishops coach who saw Babb throw this past February.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Helena Babb had given up playing softball. Now, the Tarboro High School graduate has accepted an offer to play in college.

Babb, a 2018 Tarboro grad and the Telegram’s 2017 Pitcher of the Year, said that as a child she had dreams of playing softball at Alabama, but as the years went by that desire began to fade. By the 2017-18 sports season, Babb’s senior year at Tarboro, she decided that she wasn’t going to play.

“The older I got it I kind of knew it wasn’t going to happen,” Babb said of playing at a large college. “By the end of junior year and into senior year I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to go to Edgecombe Community College and get my degree.”

While going to school for radiography, Babb accepted an offer to help younger athletes hone their pitching skills. During one of those sessions in February at Competitive Edge Academy in Rocky Mount, N.C. Wesleyan pitching coach Libby Fulford happened to be in the facility.

Fulford saw Babb throw a few balls, and approached the former Vikings player about throwing a bullpen session.

“It was kind of crazy, honestly, I was asked if I wanted to help do pitching lessons. We did a clinic and three or four girls show up, and when we’re working they asked if I would throw,” Babb said. “Now I haven’t pitched since last May of 2018, so I thought this will look horrible, but I went to pitch and the NCWC pitching coach was in there and she was like, ‘We want you to come to Wesleyan.’

“She said there was no timeline, but to let me know. At first I was blown away, like what in the world, here this comes along. So I figured I’ll give it a shot. It was crazy and not expected.”

Babb accepted and will begin playing next season with the Bishops.

She is finishing her semester at ECC, and when she enrolls at NCWC, Babb will change her major to special education.

“I had brother who passed away in 2011, and if he would have survived he would have been special needs,” Babb said. “So special needs has a soft part in my heart. I didn’t like radiography, and now I know I can put my heart into my major. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Timing is everything.”

Babb led Tarboro as a senior in 2018 with a .493 batting average. Babb also had team-highs in hits (35), RBIs (20), runs (26) and home runs (1). She struck out just twice over 82 plate appearances.

In the circle, where she will find most of her playing time with the Bishops, Babb recorded 16 complete games across her 20 starts, which led to a 7-11 record. She struck out 153 batters over 108 innings.

Despite that success in her final high school season she was ready to hang it up. But the sport found a way to suck her back in.

“I remember hearing that sound every day,” Babb said of the ball popping the catcher’s mitt. “I had this adrenaline rush going through me when I was throwing and I realized how much I missed it. I had to jump at this chance, like here’s a door opening. I need to take this door.”

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