By Shehan Jeyarajah
No. 13-seed Baylor softball used a superhuman effort from senior left-hander Whitney Canion to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals out of the Waco Regional on Sunday.
On the final day of the tournament with a trip to the Super Regionals on the line, Canion pitched two straight complete games against Tulsa. In the first game, she pitched 10 scoreless innings in an extra-inning pitcher’s duel before allowing a walk-off home run in the 11th inning. She would get another crack at the Golden Hurricane right afterward. Following a run in the first inning, Canion shut them out for the remaining six to lead the Bears to a series-clinching victory.
Over the course of the two games, Canion threw 302 pitches and allowed 14 hits, but only two runs and 19 strikeouts over 17.1 innings in Waco.
After being held scoreless in the first, Baylor’s offense did enough to win in the second. Sophomore third baseman Sarah Smith hit a home run in the second inning to give Baylor a 2-1 lead that they would not surrender. Freshman second baseman Ari Hawkins added an RBI double in the fourth to ice the game.
Baylor will advance to play No. 4-seed Georgia in Athens, Ga., in the Super Regionals. The Bulldogs moved on after defeating North Carolina State twice on Sunday. The last time these two teams played, Baylor beat Georgia in the 2011 Super Regionals to advance to the 2011 Women’s Contract World Series. That was Baylor’s most recent appearance in the WCWS.
Baylor and Georgia will play at three game series with games guaranteed at 1 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday on ESPNU and ESPN respectively. If a third game is needed, it will take place immediately after the first game on Saturday and will be broadcast live on ESPN.