Four years ago, Mallory Baker led Center Grove to a state championship in softball, scoring the first run of the Trojan’s 6-2 title game victory. Now, as a senior on Purdue’s softball team, the 2015
Indiana Miss Softball is enjoying her final and favorite season with the Boilermakers.
“Honestly this year has been the best year as far as teammates, cohesiveness and culture as a program,”
Baker said. “We pride ourselves on being family members and great teammates, and this year is the first time where I’ve seen it 100 percent real and invested. Super proud of the culture the seniors have laid for the future for Purdue softball. Sad to leave it, but so far this has been the best year yet.”
In 2015, Baker and her teammates claimed the sixth IHSAA state softball title at Center Grove.
One of her Purdue teammates is Rylee Platusic, who was on the Lake Central squad that the Trojans defeated in the title game.
“I didn’t remember playing against her but now she’s my teammate,” Baker said. “We are by each other every day so it’s kind of funny.” Baker’s commitment to Purdue was not an easy one. She grew up wanting to go to Indiana University and had many high school friends go to Bloomington.“
I was born and raised a Hoosier,” Baker said. “I chose Purdue be-cause of education primarily. They had all the resources that I needed and athletics that provided top-notch facilities. I always thought that I wanted to go to IU. Had an offer to go there but Purdue’s’ was better. I wanted to branch out and meet new people. Going to Purdue was going to allow all those opportunities for me.”
Her time with the Boilermakers has had ups and downs. As a freshman, she faced a coaching change and an injury. She played first base and right field. She was all-Big Ten as a sophomore and is two-time all-academic Big Ten. She hit .247 last year. With hopes of helping Purdue reach the NCAA tourney, Baker is hitting .299 with 47 hits and 32 runs batted in. She slammed two home runs and drove in five runs earlier this month when the Boilers defeated visiting Nebraska, 9-5.
Baker was coached at Center Grove by longtime mentor Russ Milligan, who retired from coaching after the 2018 season.
"He pushed me, and he pushed our team in a lot of different aspects,” Baker said. “He expected the best, 100 percent of the time, which is something that’s very admirable. I’m sad to see that he has stepped down. but we stay in contact. He is a great guy and important part of my coaching life.”
Baker keeps up with the Trojans’ program. Center Grove continues to produce Big Ten players with catcher Jordyn Rudd at Northwestern and pitcher Abby Herbst who is a Wisconsin recruit.
After graduation, Baker would like to return to her home area to utilize her degree in organizational leadership and coach softball. She is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority at Purdue.
“I juggle softball, sorority and school; I’m pretty busy all the time,” she grinned.