By Krista Pirtle
The Lady Bears softball team is off to its best start in school history, as it looks to continue its 11-0 winning streak.
This weekend, the Lady Bears will be hosting the QTI Powers Invitational, facing Sam Houston State, Central Arkansas, Louisiana-Monroe and Houston.
Its best start prior the 2011 season was at 7-0 in 2007, the season they found themselves in Oklahoma City for the NCAA Women’s College World Series.
Does this team have the makings of that winning team four years ago? It is still too early to be determined, but with the dominance in the circle and the power in the box, the numbers say the Lady Bears have what it takes.
This season Baylor has recorded 10 home runs, led by senior Dani Leal with five.
“Last year I was having trouble with my thumb,” Leal said. “I think I had it too much in my head, and I was just worried too much. Now that everything is fixed, I’m playing more confident, definitely. I’m just approaching every day like my last day.”
On the defensive side, redshirt sophomore Whitney Canion has struck out 59 opposing batters, accumulating over half of the team’s total of 85.
Canion said her numbers have increased because of an improvement in her maturity from last season and her realization that she needs more variety in her pitches.
“I’ve always been just predominantly rise balls,” Canion said. “Other than the game I struck out 15, my numbers with change and curve have increased tremendously. If I can throw a drop and change, you don’t know what’s coming next. So now, if people can know I have all these weapons, I’ll have people guessing, which means I’m doing my job. My numbers have been evenly spread almost, and I think that’s what’s helped me.”
On Tuesday in Baylor’s first of two games against Louisiana Tech, Canion proved that she is not only a threat in the circle but also in the batters box.
She sent a pitch out of the park, a shot that head coach Glenn Moore called a “no doubter.” Canion said she knows how to act after sitting a batter down, but she is new to knocking a ball over the fence and maintaining her composure in the circle the next inning.
These matchups could prove to be great competition for Baylor before it heads west for the Campbell/Cartier Classic tournament in San Diego where it will face the defending NCAA champion UCLA and four other teams.
Squeezed between the QTI Powers Invitational and the Campbell/Cartier Classic is a doubleheader Tuesday against Prairie View A&M, over whom the Lady Bears hold a 4-0 all-time advantage.
Baylor won both games of a March. 2, 2010, doubleheader against Prairie View A&M, run-ruling the Panthers 10-0 and 14-0
After the Campbell/Cartier Classic, Arizona awaits a three- game series with the Lady Bears beginning March 11.
“I want to get the top of our order going offensively,” Moore said. “We have a pretty solid offense –not a whole lot of standouts, but kids getting the job done.”
As the Lady Bears focus on getting good contact from every hitter in the order, their nonconference schedule should prepare them before they open conference play against Texas A&M on March 26 in Waco.
For now, Baylor is looking to use the QTI Powers Invitational and next week to prepare for a tough tournament in San Diego and hoping to remain undefeated.