By Shehan Jeyarajah
After playing in four tournaments to open the season and having a double-header against Southern Mississippi canceled, No. 12 Baylor softball will play its first non-tournament home game against Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. today.
“After all the travel, it’s going to be weird playing a home game, but I’m excited to play at home,” freshman second baseman Ari Hawkins said.
Baylor (16-4) has started the season as one of the best teams in the country. Since an opening day loss to then-No. 3 Washington, the Bears have gone 4-1 against Top 25 opponents, including two straight wins over No. 18 Missouri. Junior right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann is hitting a Big 12-high .462 this season, and has reached base in 40 consecutive games for the Bears. Senior catcher Clare Hosack has added a team-high 16 RBIs in only 18 starts this season. The Bears hit .328 as a team and slug .462.
Freshmen second baseman Ari Hawkins and center fielder Lindsey Cargill have been starters for the Bears since opening day.
“Our freshmen have stepped it up, and came in here ready to play or pushed someone in front of them,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “I’ve been very pleased with that, in the same regard I’ve had upperclassmen that have brought them along in the offseason and really given them the rite of passage to have the type of confidence.”
Sophomore pitcher Heather Stearns was named Big 12 Softball Pitcher of the Week after 2-0 weekend where she posted a 0.47 ERA and 23 strikeouts in two complete games. On the season, Stearns is 7-1 with a 1.20 ERA. Senior left-hander Whitney Canion is 8-3 in 11 starts with a 1.66 ERA and 81 strikeouts. Canion was named Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 25.
“Our pitching has been really good,” Moore said. “Our bullpen has been really strong to start.”
Baylor holds opponents to a batting average of .194 and a slugging percentage of .304 in 500 at-bats. Baylor has outscored opponents by 67 runs.
Louisiana Tech (8-11) comes into its match up with the Bears losing 11-3 to No. 13 Oklahoma in Norman on Tuesday. The Lady Techsters sit with a record of 8-11, including four Top 25 losses.
“[Louisiana Tech coach Mark] Montgomery has won everywhere he’s been,” Moore said. “He’s a great softball mind. They’re going to make us work for everything we get. I can promise you they’re going to be scrappy. It’s going to be a great mid-week because you can’t assume a W.”
Louisiana Tech leads the all-time series 30-16 over the Bears, The Bears have not lost to the Lady Techsters since 2006. Baylor will play Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. today at Getterman Stadium.