By Krista Pirtle
After advancing to the Women’s College World Series semifinals and finishing fourth in the nation, No. 7 Baylor softball is back in action, “fueled by their past and driven by the future they seek.”
For 2012, that future is not just advancing to the World Series.
“Knowing what it feels like gives us a taste of what it’s like,” senior Kayce Walker said. “Not just to get there but to win it.”
Three players graduated after last season, but eight hopefuls have been added to the roster.
Eight may not sound like much, but it is just under half of the 19-player roster.
“We’re trying not to look so much into that past and what happened last year,” senior Megan Turk said. “We do want to start with a clean slate for this season. I know all the returners and all the vets are really trying to voice that to the freshmen as well. They are excited that they’re a part of our program now, and we’re excited that they’re here. We really do want to start with a solid foundation and build on top of that.”
Seven starters are returning for the Lady Bears, leaving the middle of the infield open for young faces. Last weekend, freshman infielders Delaney Guy and Jordan Strickland had to chance to showcase their skills.
“I’m extremely excited yet patient for those two,” Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said. “They need patience because our philosophy requires a lot of thinking. They could be the two best middle infielders we’ve ever put in Baylor uniforms and we’ve had some pretty good ones. At the beginning of the year I told them both that they were fighting for shortstop. Somebody would win that position and the other would move to second base.”
The defensive end looks to retain its talent from last year, but the offensive end will add some spark with seven lefties in the lineup.
Leadoff for the Lady Bears is Kathy Shelton, followed by Walker, infielder Holly Holl and ace pitcher Whitney Canion batting clean up.
“She wants to be an all American hitter as well as a pitcher,” Moore said of Canion. “She’s very capable of that. I’ve said that since the beginning and I’m excited to see her buy into that.”
Behind her in the lineup will be Turk.
“I don’t want a left-handed hitter hitting into Whitney,” Moore said. “But when you have Whitney on base you’re always nervous anyways. That along with the fact that [Turk] is a good hitter gives us a pretty solid five holes of hitting.”
Rounding out the lineup are Guy and freshman Linsey Hays.
“Delaney is a little further advanced than most of our hitters; she’s really good,” Moore said. “Linsey Hays could be one of the best hitters we put in a Baylor uniform. She hits power to all fields. She along with Delaney Guy offensively, they’re going to provide a lot of runs for us in the bottom of the order.”
Whether it’s in the field or in the batter’s box, the Lady Bears are determined to improve all season long, never settling for mediocrity.
“We’ve been to the World Series and now we want to go a step further and win it,” Shelton said. “I think that’s possible.”