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It was a tale of two games at Tuesday’s double-header against the University of Houston Cougars. The No. 14 Baylor Lady Bears softball team won the first game 4-1, but the Cougars responded to split the series after 5-3 win over the Lady Bears.
The Lady Bears had a burst of offense in the first inning, scoring all seven of their runs, but went cold in the following innings.
In the first game, the four runs scored were enough to win due to strong pitching by junior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion and key plays by the defense.
“I think we played great defensively tonight,” Canion said. “We played as a team. I thought we hit the ball hard, right at people sometimes, but I think it was great for us to play today before the weekend because we had that weekend off.”
Canion had a strong outing, striking out 10 batters and allowing four hits and a lone run while on the mound. However, the rest of the pitching staff struggled.
During the second game, head coach Glenn Moore had to use the entire pitching staff because the Cougars were hitting the ball hard.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns allowed six hits and two runs without striking out a batter. Senior right-handed pitcher Courtney Repka, who came on to relieve Stearns, allowed two runs in one-third of an inning.
Moore had to make another pitching change, so he put in junior right-handed pitcher Liz Paul, but she struggled by allowing three hits and two runs in an inning. Baylor didn’t record its first strikeout until the sixth inning when Canion came back on the mound. Baylor started both games strong, and while it was enough in the first game, the Cougars responded in the second. The Cougars stranded players in the first game, scoring one run off of five hits.
In the second game, the Cougars were down three, but scored five runs to win the game.
“Credit them. They hit the snot out of that ball,” Moore said. “They hit it hard. I can’t remember another game that we’ve pitched four pitchers. When Whit came in, she took control of it, but Heather has been throwing well for us all year and just didn’t have it tonight for whatever reason.”
The Baylor defense played well despite a few key errors. After the loss, the Cougars came out fighting, and at the beginning Baylor made plays to end any threats. With the bases loaded at the top of the first, Baylor got back-to-back outs to end the inning, allowing Baylor a chance to put pressure on the opposing team.
Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann and junior first baseman Holly Holl drew back-to-back walks, and sophomore shortstop Jordan Strickland doubled to right center, allowing Thumann to score.
Freshman third baseman Sarah Smith reached by a fielder’s choice and Holl got out. Freshman outfielder Linsey Hays also reached by a fielder’s choice, but an error by the third baseman allowed Smith to score. Freshman catcher Bailey Chalmers singled to right center, allowing Strickland to score. However, Baylor only generated three more hits.
“It’s good to jump out in the first inning like that and put pressure on the team,” senior center fielder Kathy Shelton said. “We just have to make sure we continue to add on to those runs throughout the game, and we couldn’t find a way to do that today.”
The Cougars broke out with a big fifth inning. After back-to-back singles, a fielding error by Thumann allowed a runner to advance to second and the other to advance to third. After being hit by a pitch, the Cougars had the bases loaded without any outs. A single to left field allowed a run to score, and a second fielding error on freshman second baseman Robin Landrith allowed runners to advance and one more to cross home plate. Two more scores gave the Cougars their first lead of the double-header and an eventual win.
Throughout the day, the Cougars had strong at-bats, including hitting four doubles in the first game. Baylor found the holes early, but once the Cougars began making plays, Baylor was left cold.
Baylor hopes to rebound when it resumes Big 12 play against Kansas at 6 p.m. Friday in Lawrence, Kan.