Story by Max Calderone | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
No. 16 Baylor softball (25-10) dropped the second game of a mid-week series to McNeese State (28-14) 7-3 Wednesday at Getterman Stadium.
Baylor managed to collect just three hits on the afternoon and committed three errors in the ballgame.
The Lady Bears turned to ace junior pitcher Gia Rodoni in the circle, who wasn’t at her best, giving up seven hits and five runs in just four innings of work before turning it over to fellow junior pitcher Regan Green.
Head coach Glenn Moore said he was disappointed in his team’s performance today and called it perhaps the worst he’s ever seen in a Baylor uniform.
“We made too many mistakes,” Moore said. “I’m just very disappointed. I know we’re a lot better than that.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Cowgirls struck Rodoni for three runs in the top of the second. Freshman shortstop Tayler Strother laid down a sacrifice squeeze bunt with the bases loaded to score the first run. Junior right fielder Justyce McClain followed that up with a single that knocked in two more runs and McNeese State took a 3-0 lead to the bottom half of the inning.
After two walks and a hit by pitch opened the bottom of the second, the Lady Bears chased McNeese State’s freshman starting pitcher Ashley Koncir from the circle. Freshman reliever Amber Coons threw a wild pitch that allowed Baylor’s sophomore first baseman Goose McGlaun to trot home for the first of three runs in the inning.
Sophomore second baseman Nicky Dawson laced a single to shallow center field that brought home two more and tied the score 3-3, but that was as close as the Lady Bears would get, as junior left fielder Kyla Walker flied out to left field to end the inning, leaving two runners on base.
McNeese State took the lead back in the top of the fourth as three straight hits sent sophomore pinch runner JaMaiya Miller around the bases. Then, McClain picked up her third RBI of the game with another single that missed the diving glove of Baylor’s senior center fielder Jessie Scroggins and put the Cowgirls ahead 5-3.
Green came on in the top of the fifth, but didn’t receive much help from the defense behind her. Sophomore shortstop Taylor Ellis bobbled a routine ground ball that allowed McNeese State’s junior first baseman Taylor Edwards to reach with one out. Junior catcher Aubree Turbeville followed up with a single to right field that skipped underneath the glove of freshman infielder Hannah Smith, who had already been switched from her starting position of third base with sophomore outfielder Maddison Kettler, and Edwards came all the way around from first to extend the Cowgirls’ lead to 6-3.
Green had to take matters into her own hands, striking out McNeese State’s senior Carleigh Chaumont and getting Strother to hit a lazy fly ball out to Scroggins which kept the Lady Bears within three.
However, the Cowgirls added one more in the top of the seventh thanks to another error by Ellis and Coons was able to retire the Baylor side one-two-three in the bottom half to cap off the ballgame.
Dawson said moving forward the team will need to stay dialed in all game long in order to avoid lapses like this.
“Remain in focus the whole game. We’ve got to come out early fighting, and we’ve got to be able to hold that for seven innings and be able to shut them down from the get-go so we don’t have to chip away at the end,” Dawson said. “We should get it done from the start and I think that’s expected.”
Moore echoed his second baseman’s sentiments and said the team will focus on the positives from this game in order to move forward and be successful down the stretch.
“Maybe this was a wakeup call for us,” Moore said. “If I just went out there to the team and said ‘Hey this is just a bad game,’ I think it’s really a loss. But we didn’t do that. We’ve talked about it and we’re going to get some things straight from that and we’re going to fight back and try to become the team we are.”
Baylor will next travel to Stillwater, Okla for a three-game series this weekend with Oklahoma State. Game one begins at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by game two at 4 p.m. Saturday and the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.