By Shehan Jeyarajah
When senior left-hander Whitney Canion is on her game, there are few hitters in all of college softball that can hope to hit off of her. McNeese State’s lineup learned that the hard way, as Canion threw her fifth no-hitter and second seven-inning no-hitter of her career on Wednesday at Getterman Stadium.
Behind Canion’s monster day, Baylor softball (38-12) coasted to a comfortable 6-0 win over McNeese State (35-15) on a warm Wednesday night at Getterman Stadium. The win was Canion’s 115th of her career, which moves her into a tie with former Oklahoma pitcher Jennifer Stewart for third place on the Big 12 career wins list.
After hitting a batter with a pitch and walking a batter consecutively in the second inning, Canion could have let her control get away from her. However, Canion took charge and finished with 14 strikeouts and only one walk in her seven innings of work.
Baylor’s offense started quickly after sophomore designated player Linsey Hays launched pitcher Jamie Allred’s first pitch over the left field wall. In the next at-bat, junior shortstop Jordan Strickland blasted a solo home run to give the Bears a 2-0 lead with one out.
Senior utility player Liz Paul singled up the middle to put a runner on base, and junior right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann singled to put runners on first and second, and freshman second baseman Ari Hawkins hit a two-RBI double to give the Bears a 4-0 lead.
Hawkins advanced to third on a wild pitch and senior first baseman Holly Holl walked to put runners on the corners with two outs. Holl was picked off trying to steal second, but not before Hawkins scored to put the Bears up 5-0 after two. After the second inning, Canion retired 17 straight batters, including striking out a ridiculous 12 over that stretch on the way to picking up the no-no.
“She’s pretty good right now, and she’s getting hot at the right time,” Baylor coach Glenn Moore said. “I thought she didn’t rush, she slowed herself down, was patient and made the hitters miss by a lot. Part of her effectiveness is the development of her change up over the years, and it was on tonight.”
Sophomore second baseman Sarah Smith homered in the fifth to give the Bears an insurance run.
Baylor hit only 30 home runs in 59 games in 2013; the team has already hit 56 dingers through 50 games in 2014 after the three on Wednesday.
Hays and Strickland each hit their 10th homer of the season, which moved them into a tie for first on the team in home runs with senior catcher Clare Hosack. The last time three Baylor teammates hit double-digit home runs was 2007.
Baylor will get back into the thick of Big 12 play with a weekend series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday against Iowa State in Ames. First pitch is at 3 p.m. on Friday. The Bears will look to break their tie with Texas for second in the Big 12, and make up ground against Oklahoma. The Bears trail the Sooners by two games.