By Shehan Jeyarajah
After its tough 2-1 series loss to No. 12 Oklahoma this past weekend, Baylor softball moved itself behind the 8-ball when it comes to winning the Big 12 this season.
“I know we didn’t come out and win the series, but I think the Sunday win was very important for us to give us the confidence we need going into the conference game,” sophomore designated player Linsey Hays said.
With the series loss in the back of their mind, Baylor travels to Oklahoma State (23-18, 4-9) to try and gain ground on the Sooners in the Big 12 standings.
Right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann has been dominant in 39 starts this season for the Bears. She leads the team with a .408 batting average and is third on the team with a .568 slugging percentage in 125 at-bats on the year.
Senior catcher Clare Hosack leads the team with a .660 slugging percentage to go along with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 2014.
Baylor’s offense has been inconsistent at times, but they still hit a solid .306 on the season with an excellent team .468 slugging percentage.
Baylor has made its money in the bullpen this season. Sixth-year senior starter Whitney Canion has put together a masterful season and sits with a record of 17-7 and 1.46 ERA in 21 starts this season.
Alongside fellow starter Heather Stearns and reliever Liz Paul, the Bears have a combined team ERA of 1.52 and hold opponents to a batting average of only .191.
Junior outfielder Shelby Davis has led Oklahoma State with a .418 and 64 total hits on the season, 15 more than anyone else on the roster. OSU as a team hits .307 with a .404 slugging percentage in 41 games this season.
Senior right-hander Simone Freeman, a native of Sydney, Australia, has taken the brunt of the pitching duties for OSU this season. In 29 starts, she has a record of 18-10 with a 1.96 ERA. Oklahoma State’s pitching rotation holds opposing batters to a .221 batting average this season.
Oklahoma State heads into the weekend following a 1-2 series loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock over the past weekend, including being five inning run-ruled in Sunday’s 11-3 loss to the Red Raiders.
The Cowgirls have a record of 3-7 in conference with the win against Tech and two against Iowa State.
“I know they have won a few games in conference, so it’s going to be very important to go and get three wins this weekend,” Hays said. “[This series is] important to stay in the race for the Big 12 Championship.”
If the Bears manage to pull off a three-game sweep, Baylor can improve to 7-3, which will do wonders when it comes to catching Oklahoma and Texas above of them in the standings.
“We still feel we have a shot at the Big 12 title and there’s still a little bit of ball left to play,” softball coach Glenn Moore said. “There’s a lot of games left and injuries happen; a lot of things can change the course of this. If we start looking at postseason and don’t take care of business now, we’ll dig a deeper hole. We’ve got to take care of our business and hope things fall into place.”
Baylor will play Oklahoma today, Friday and Saturday at Cowgirl Softball Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.
First pitch will be at 7 p.m., 6 p.m. and noon respectively.