By Greg DeVries
The Baylor softball team won both games of its doubleheader Saturday to move to 9-2 on the season and 4-0 in the Miken Classic.
The Lady Bears won the first game of the doubleheader 4-1 over the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders. Freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns got the start and pitched five scoreless innings. She recorded seven strikeouts in the process.
“We’ve got consistency in the circle for sure,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “We’re pretty happy with what’s going on there…I couldn’t be happier with what we’re doing in the circle.”
Baylor got off to a strong start in the first inning when senior center fielder Kathy Shelton singled to short. She advanced on a throwing error, which also allowed sophomore right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann to score the first run of the game.
Stearns got into a bit of a jam in the first inning. With two on and two out, Moore made some defensive changes. Stearns locked in and struck out the batter to end the inning, keeping Baylor ahead 1-0.
Stearns started to heat up in the second inning. She started the inning with back-to-back strikeouts and forced a pop fly to center to end the inning.
Stearns walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the third inning, but an athletic catch and throw by Shelton quickly turned two. After another groundout to second, the Lady Bears were back on the offensive.
Freshman second baseman Robin Landrith started the fourth inning attack with a blooper in front of the center fielder. She advanced to second after Islander pitcher Constance Brandenburg was called for an illegal pitch. Freshman catcher Bailey Chalmers eventually drove Landrith home on an RBI single to left to put Baylor up 2-0.
Shelton started the top of the fifth inning with a single to left field, but advanced to second on an illegal pitch. Junior first baseman Holly Holl followed with a deep shot to left field that bounced off of the wall for an RBI double.
Freshman left fielder Linsey Hays grounded to second, but reached first on an error. Holl advanced to third on the play. Landrith slapped a single down the right field line to score Holl from third base. Hays attempted to score from second, but was called out at the plate.
This gave the Lady Bears a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. In the sixth, Baylor would make a pitching change to junior right-handed pitcher Liz Paul.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with one out, the Islander center fielder Mickayla Cochran hit a double off of the left field wall. She may have turned it into a triple, but she fell while rounding second and had to slide back in for a double. It wouldn’t matter as Islander first baseman Meagan McKinney followed with an RBI double.
The Lady Bears held on to win 4-1 and temporarily moved to 8-2 on the season.
Junior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion got the start in the second game against the Islanders. Much like Stearns, Canion got in a bit of a jam in the first inning with two runners on base. She was able to escape the inning with no damage done on the scoreboard.
With two on and one out, Islander pitcher Ashley Elicerio threw a wild pitch to walk junior catcher Clare Hosack. Sophomore infielder Jill Reid scored on the wild pitch to put Baylor up 1-0 in the bottom of the second.
In the same inning, Thumann made contact and sent the ball up the middle with the bases loaded. The centerfielder was not able to field it, and three runs scored. This put the Bears up 4-0.
“I think overall, [the offense] was really good,” Thumann said. “We’re hitting the ball hard, which is always a good sign. I really liked our offense today.”
In the bottom of the third inning, Hays led off with a triple off of the left field wall. An infield single by freshman third baseman Sarah Smith drove the run home to give Baylor a 5-0 lead.
“It felt nice. I really just had to tell myself to relax at the plate, get a good pitch to hit, and do my thing,” Hays said. “I’m trying to get in a groove, persevering, and just staying with it.”
Thumann started the bottom of the sixth inning with a single to right field. After stealing second and third, sophomore first baseman Sarah Crockett drove her home with an RBI single. Smith followed with an RBI single to left that scored Crockett from second to put Baylor ahead 7-0.
Canion retired the last 17 batters in a row to finish the game. She finished with nine strikeouts and only allowed one hit.
“I felt pretty good. I keep feeling like the more I go on, the better I get,” Canion said. “I just really have to be mentally tough.”
Baylor is now 9-2 on the season. The Lady Bears will next play at 11 a.m. Sunday against the winner of Pacific and Northern Colorado.