Anderson County’s Payton Baum feels blessed, shares good news
By John Herndon, 110forChrist.com
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
– Colossians 3:23-24 (New International Version, 2011)
Payton Baum believes her story is one of God using little things in a mighty big way.
And chances are that those who have followed the Anderson County High School senior’s softball path will wholeheartedly agree. Hers is a story of friends telling friends about Jesus and a life truly being changed as a result.
Now, Payton is entering the final month of her high school career with a softball scholarship in hand and being a vital cog in Anderson’s bid for its first state tournament berth since 2016.
It all began when some friends invited Payton to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle at the school. A two-sport athlete – Payton was also a member of the girls’ basketball team – she became more involved and began seeing and experiencing what a life in Christ was all about.
And when the time came to attend FCA Camp at Western Kentucky University in 2021, Payton was ready to go, albeit with some apprehension.
“I was super nervous when I went to the camp because I didn’t know anybody,” she smiles.
But those fears turned into a realization that she wanted to give her life to Christ. She made her life-changing decision that week and was baptized last August at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Mt. Eden.
“I wake up every day and want to live my life for Him,” Payton says of her new relationship with Christ. The joy is apparent as she recounts her journey and her belief that God is at work in her life. It’s hard to see things much differently.
Look at her athletic career.
While Payton has been a member of Anderson’s powerhouse girls’ basketball teams that made three consecutive trips to the Sweet 16, her role on that team was somewhat limited. She had her moments but was mainly an under-sized, give-it-all-she-had forward who came off the bench. As a senior, Payton averaged just 1 point and 2 rebounds a game.
But on the softball field, Payton emerged as a promising infielder with enough pop in her bat to make a difference in one swing. As a freshman, she hit .265 with a home run in 15 games, but a possible breakout sophomore season was scuttled by COVID. The pandemic also played havoc with that crucial recruiting exposure summer and opportunities for college coaches to take notice.
Then, after being with the Lady Bearcat basketball team through its run to the Final Four in a delayed state tournament, Payton made the transition to softball with a rousing start. She homered in her first at-bat of the season in a win over Collins, then went on to hit .313 with 6 long balls in 22 games. However, the season came to an abrupt end when Spencer County, a team that Anderson had routed 16-0 less than two weeks before, upset the Lady Bearcats in the 30th District Tournament opener.
While the team suffered a sour ending, things got much sweeter on the field for Payton individually. Without a high-profile resume, she had reached out to some colleges but had little feedback. But God was undoubtedly at work.
Playing travel ball for the Louisville Fusion, Payton caught the eye of a coach from Campbellsville University who offered a scholarship on the spot. She signed with the Tigers last fall.
“I got that offer from Campbellsville that was like it just fell into my hands,” Payton smiles. “It was the answer to a lot of prayer. It’s a good Christian college, which is what I wanted.”
Payton says her career plan is to study radiology and become an MRI technician. It’s a path that will eventually require training at another school but for now, Payton feels blessed and is doing what she can for the Lord.
“I want Him to look at me and say, ‘Did you give me everything you had?’” she says.
The 2022 season has been a big one for Payton and her teammates. Hitting in the middle of the Anderson lineup, Baum carries a .362 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 4 home runs through 18 games. She’s second on the team with 17 runs batted in.
And sporting a 16-2 record and a Capital City Classic championship, Anderson is currently pegged as the team to beat in the Eighth Region RPI standings.
“So far, we have had a great season,” Payton says. “We need to work hard every day. Our team chemistry is really good and we are learning to play together.”
And Payton is also learning that she can make a difference in lives just as a friend made a difference in hers by doing the little things. She’s grown in her faith and the nervousness that once overwhelmed her has been overcome by a desire to serve Christ.
“I don’t find it hard to do now,” Payton says of sharing her faith. “If someone comes to me for advice, I will always push them to the Lord. I speak at FCA some. I still get nervous, but I am not afraid to tell people that I love Jesus.”