Linfield College softball player Jaydee Baxter and football player Buddy Saxon have been named the female and male recipients, respectively, of the Vern Marshall Award, saluting the student-athletes with the greatest tenacity. The award was decided by a vote of the Linfield coaching staff.
Baxter, a four-year letterwinner, has been a major cog on the Wildcats softball team that reached the NCAA championship game each of the past three seasons, winning once.
Among the qualities Linfield coach Jackson Vaughan admires most about Baxter include “the way Jaydee practices every day and the way she approaches the game of softball. She comes to practice every single day with the mindset that she’s going to work as hard or harder than anyone else on our team. She has a kind of tenaciousness that contagious to the rest of the team. She works really hard and brings high energy and a positive attitude and attacks the game.”
She concludes her career as one of Linfield’s all-time leaders in batting average, runs scored, home runs, slugging percentage, and walks. As a softball player, she has received awards such as Most Improved and Most Inspirational, and is a “Dedication to Excellence” award winner.
“Jaydee has a huge love for the game. That whole aura that she brings has been a big part of our success over the last several seasons.”
According to her coach, the transition from her freshman softball season to her sophomore year is where Baxter demonstrated perhaps her greatest growth and tenaciousness.
“As a freshman, she didn’t perform very well in the regionals offensively,” said Vaughan. “From the time we lost in that regional until the time we played again next year, she basically said, ‘I’m going to become much more of an impact player offensively.’ And at the beginning of her sophomore year, she certainly was that. At that point, she started hitting up toward the top of the lineup and has been a mainstay for us there ever since.”
In addition to softball, Baxter has served Linfield as football team manager, as a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and as a campus peer advisor, all while maintaining a 3.83 grade point average.
“She’s someone everybody looks up to. A lot of athletes say they have a good attitude, but not many follow through. Jaydee’s is one of the rare people who walks the talk with how she handles herself, how she treats other people, and how she affects other people’s outlook.”
Baxter graduates this month with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. She is the daughter of Don and Jan Baxter of Damascus, Ore.
Saxon, a four-year starting wide receiver for the Linfield football team, lent his talents to three Northwest Conference championship clubs and helped the Wildcats advance to at least the second round of the NCAA playoffs each of the past three seasons.
He finished as Linfield’s third-leading receiver the past two years, hauling in a career-high 38 catches for 463 yards while scoring eight touchdowns during his senior campaign. His efforts earned him all-conference honors, the significance of which was not lost on head coach Joseph Smith.
“He earned first team NWC honors over other players with higher stats because of the respect he had earned around the conference for his physicality and competitive drive,” Smith said. “He backed down from no one and was a physical and intimidating force for us on offense.”
Saxon has also demonstrated a commitment to excellence off the field.
“Buddy is a success story at Linfield as he not only put himself through college financially…but learned enough self discipline and study habits to enable him to graduate from Linfield,” Smith said. “He did this by sheer will and determination. Things did not come easily to Buddy, but he was a worker, and a competitor.”
The past two springs, Saxon has split time between offseason football and Linfield’s successful softball program, where he serves as an assistant coach, working primarily with the outfielders.
Saxon graduates at the end of the month with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He is the son of Jeff and Laurie Saxon of Grants Pass, Ore.
The Vern Marshall Award was established in honor of Vern Marshall ’57, the former Linfield athlete and college and professional sports referee who passed away in 2002.
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