TWIN FALLS — Kylie Baumert was safe. She knew it for certain. The catcher never touched her.
Her arm was also broken. Like, screws, pins and a plate broken. But she was safe.
“I was sitting down, and I thought, ‘ow, that hurt.’ But then he called me out. I said she didn’t touch me, but then I looked down and realized that did not look good,” Baumert said. “I went over to the fence to tell my mom that my arm was broken, but then I went back to tell the umpire that she didn’t touch me. She really didn’t touch me.”
On June 17, in a summer softball game in Oregon, the Twin Falls High School senior-to-be and Times-News‘ softball player of the year bounced between lamenting her injured arm and pleading her case that she was safe at home.
The third base coach, Nick Baumert, who doubles as Kylie’s father and the head softball coach at College of Southern Idaho, barreled down the line to defend her safeness to the umpire. He had the best view of anyone. In fact, as her summer softball coach and sounding board, he’s had the best view of Baumert’s softball career and competitiveness for the past decade.
“I didn’t realize she was really hurt until they got my attention. It was probably a sight,” Nick said.
The statistics from Baumert’s junior season speak for themselves: The lefty compiled a .650 batting average and a 1.146 slugging percentage while hitting 14 doubles, 11 triples and five home runs, and was 28-for-29 in stolen base attempts. Her OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) stood at 1.841 at the season’s end.
Good players come and go. But what sets Baumert apart and makes her “a coach’s dream,” according Twin Falls head coach Tonia Burk, cannot be measured in a spreadsheet.
“I’ve never seen a kid genuinely care this much about Twin Falls athletics. Whatever team and whatever season she’s in, she wants Twin Falls to be the best,” Burk said.
She has plenty of chances to enhance Twin Falls athletics too; Baumert was a first-team all-conference libero for a Bruins volleyball team that finished third at the 4A state tournament last fall. In the winter, though she was hampered by an injury sustained during volleyball season, she was a key reserve for a Twin Falls basketball team that finished fourth at the state tournament.
In the spring, she was named Great Basin Conference player of the year after receiving co-player of the year honors as a sophomore in 2016, and the Bruins finished fourth at the 4A state tournament.
Nick Baumert took over as the head softball coach at CSI in 2007. Since then, Baumert has typified the positives of being a coach’s kid. She would hang around CSI softball practices and games whenever possible, and picked up the game of softball at a sprint.
“It’s definitely an advantage for her having grown up around the game, and she doesn’t let it go by the wayside. She learns by watching, so she wants to go. She soaks up the game,” Burk said.
Nick also co-coached Baumert’s summer teams when she was younger, and has been her head coach on the Southern Idaho Ice for the past three years.
“We understand each other really well. He’s calm unless you do something. If I drop a ball, he’s not afraid to yell at me. Which is good, because sometimes I need to get yelled at. We really know each other though,” said Baumert.
Baumert also credits her father with instilling in her the competitiveness that Burk says manifests itself in her shortstop putting in the same amount of work between games, no matter if she goes 0-for-4 or 4-for-4.
At a 12U softball tournament, a then-10-year-old Baumert had played poorly in her team’s blowout loss. Still, as young summer teams do, they headed to Red Robin after the game. Nick couldn’t make it to the tournament, so she called her dad to fill him in.
“You’re going to Red Robin? That sounds like you’re celebrating. What are you celebrating?” Baumert recalls Nick asking.
“It was like, ‘I don’t know. Why am I celebrating?” Baumert wondered. All of Baumert’s friends got ice cream at Red Robin, but she didn’t. “I was punishing myself. My mom was asking, ‘are you sure you don’t want ice cream?’ But I didn’t think I deserved it. That’s when it kind of set in what it meant to be an athlete and be competitive.”
Though that may be the memory that sticks out, Baumert admits that she’s always had the competitive bug. If she lost a card game when she was young, the cards would sometimes go flying through the air. When her sister Katelynn, four years her elder, left the room during a card game, Baumert would take a peek at her cards.
“I always wanted to win everything. I still get mad when we lose. I don’t want to converse with anyone. My family understands that sometimes I need some time to cool off,” Baumert said.
Baumert batted leadoff for the Bruins last spring, and saw fewer and fewer decent pitches to hit as the season wore on. After walking just once as a freshman, she collected 14 walks as a junior, compared to just seven strikeouts. Still, she says Twin Falls was deep into its season before she had fully adjusted to taking pitches if the opposing pitcher wasn’t offering anything to hit.
“It was frustrating for me because I wanted to hit. I had poor pitch selection sometimes,” Baumert said. “Coming into this year, I would have never thought people would intentionally walk me. It was kind of cool too. But I couldn’t be selfish. I trust my teammates behind me, and I’m confident in my baserunning.”
Baumert has one more year to hone her softball skills before heading to college, where she hopes to play both softball and volleyball. She is still several weeks away from returning from the broken arm, but Burk says if any player she’s coached is equipped to come back from a long-term injury and work even harder as a result, Baumert is the one.
And she was safe on that play. Just ask her.