By Parmida Schahhosseini
Baylor softball finished third in the Big 12 preseason poll.
This is the fourth time in program history that the Bears were chosen third, but the team has high hopes that it can finish better and play competitive ball on the road to go to another world series. Last year, Baylor softball made the post season. The team entered the NCAA regional tournament and ranked No. 23 despite losing its All-American left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion after she suffered a torn ACL. The team continued to fight though the adversity as senior right-handed pitcher Courtney Repka and junior right-handed pitcher Liz Paul filled in the role of pitching. Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann also contributed with big hits.
The team fought hard and came together, finishing 34-22 and making it to the NCAA Regional in Lafayette, La. The team fell in regional play to the Stanford Cardinal.
“I am very excited,” senior infielder Kathy Shelton said. “We had a rough year last year, so I’m excited for our opportunities this year. I think it’s going to be a lot better than last year.”
Having Canion back on the lineup is a huge confidence booster as several team members noted that their game is different when she is on the field. Canion took the team to the College World Series two years ago and is an impact player. Canion is doing well as she prepares to get ready for the new season.
“I’m just trying to get back to the swing of things,” Canion said. “I’ve pitched three times this week and hit. Everything feels good right now. I just have to get back into game shape.”
Having Canion back isn’t the only change the team has made. They also added new players that will help them transition from a speed team to a power team.
“We’ll have decent speed as a team but a lot more power, “ head coach Glenn Moore said. “So that’s kind of the direction we wanted to go in for the last couple of years to be honest with you.”
The players are excited for the new offense and hopeful that they will enjoy more success with their new power game.
Baylor also brings back 10 letter winners and seven starters off the 2012 squad. This season will be different not only because of the type of offense the team will play, but it’s also who it plays.
After Texas A&M and the University of Missouri left for the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 lost two softball teams. This means that the Bears will have to play more non-conference games. Moore said it was sad to see A&M go because it was nice to have that competition to prepare them for the postseason.
The Bears will have to do a good job of getting tough non-conference opponents in the future. Many players are still optimistic that the conference games will still be competitive because there are many strong teams.
Baylor softball will begin the 2013 season Feb. 7 at home for the Getterman Classic. The Getterman Classic will include seven home games and will run through Feb. 10.
The opponents will include games against Illinois State, Sam Houston State, Northern Illinois and Southern Mississippi.