By Parmida Schahhosseini
The No. 16 Baylor Lady Bears split its double header against the North Texas Mean Green after suffering a 5-3 loss in the first game, in which Baylor lost a 3-0 lead. Baylor did respond in the second game with a 2-1 win despite the continuing offensive struggles.
Junior right-handed pitcher Liz Paul allowed only one hit, but struggled when North Texas had four doubles, three of which led to scores. Head coach Glenn Moore wanted to see how she would respond, but back-to-back home runs in the forth, including a leadoff home run, already did the damage. Moore put freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns on the mound and she allowed only two hits to allow for Baylor to make a potential come back.
Baylor’s offense struggled down the stretch despite the early runs. Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann singled up the middle and then stole second. With two outs and Thumann on second, freshman third baseman Sarah Smith homered to right center for an early 2-0 lead. The Mean Green would go in order to end the inning.
Junior first baseman Holly Holl also had a home run to center field to extend the lead. It could have been 4-0, but senior center fielder Kathy Shelton was caught stealing, her first of two for the game, to keep it a solo home run.
North Texas responded by taking advantage of Paul’s struggles. After being down three, the Mean Green scored five unanswered. Second baseman Karly Williams hit a leadoff double to left field, and after a popped ball to Paul, center fielder Paige Kisling followed with a double to left field, scoring Williams. Shortstop Brooke Foster and first baseman Danielle Hoff hit back-to-back doubles. Foster scored off of Hoff’s double to left center to tie the game.
The Lady Bears were unable to respond when they went down in order, and the Mean Green made them pay. Back-to-back home runs from Taylor Schoblocher and catcher Bryana Wade gave North Texas its first lead of the day.
Stearns tried to give Baylor a chance to score, but the Lady Bears’ offense struggled as they only generated two hits after the Mean Green scored. At the bottom of the seventh with two outs, senior infielder Kelsi Kettler doubled to right center, but Baylor wasn’t able to capitalize.
With hopes of sweeping the series out the door, Baylor could only hope to even the score. The Lady Bears began with a lead off walk by Shelton. Thumann hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Shelton to second. Holl singled up the middle and Shelton’s speed allowed her to score.
“It’s definitely helpful,” Shelton said in regards to her speed,“ Coach Moore loves to run. He likes me on base because he loves giving me the steal sign and I like to run too. It just gives your team energy when you see someone steal a base.”
North Texas would respond. Kisling reached on a fielding error by sophomore second baseman Jill Reid. Right fielder Lesley Hirsch would hit a sacrifice bunt to allow Kisling to advance to second. Foster singled to shortstop, putting a runner in scoring position. Schoblocher singled to center field allowing Kisling to score and Foster to advance to second. Senior pitcher Courtney Repka had a critical strikeout to end the inning.
Baylor seemed to have answered back, but a reverse call on a key play kept the game tied at one. Shortstop Jordan Strickland doubled down the leftfield line. Junior left-handed pitcher Canion singled up the middle, and as Strickland was about to score. She ran into the shortstop and got out on an interference call.
However, Baylor would score after a fielding error by the short stop. With Shelton on third, Smith reached on the error, allowing Shelton to score.
The Lady Bears had an opportunity in the seventh to widen the gap. With two outs, Shelton doubled to left field and Thumann singled to short. Shelton took third and Thumann stole second. Holl walked to load the bases, but North Texas made a pitching change, which led to a strikeout to end the inning.
Canion closed the game after coming in the sixth inning, and she retired three straight to win the game.
Baylor will play two more non-conference games against Houston for a double-header beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Getterman Stadium.