By Parmida Schahhosseini
The No. 22 Baylor Lady Bears softball team has been getting better every tournament, improving upon the little things before competition gets harder. Everyone is expected to perform at a high level, but the freshman class has surprised many people.
The upperclassmen and returning players continue to do their job.
Senior centerfielder Kathy Shelton has a .404 batting average and has 10 runs, 23 hits and nine RBIs this season.
She has also stolen nine out of 10 bases this season as she continues to play more aggressively. Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann has a batting average of .453 and has 14 runs, 24 hits and eight RBIs. However, the freshmen are making their mark as Baylor continues to play solid on every facet of the game.
“We are playing well as a team right now and getting better,” head coach Glenn Moore said.
Despite the great play from their returning classes, the freshmen have been catching the attention of not only the coach but also the fans.
They have brought power to the offense, which was displayed several times in multiple games. The freshmen have accounted for 31 of the 79 runs. Freshman third baseman Sarah Smith has been productive for Baylor, and Moore moved her up in the lineup. Smith is hitting an average of .537 to go along with nine runs, 22 hits and eight RBIs. Two of her at bats resulted in homeruns.
“We have more confidence up to the plate,” Smith said. “I feel like we came together.”
Another freshman contributor is outfielder Justine Young, who pinch runs effectively. Her speed is deceptive, which makes it easier for Moore to put her in to steal bases. Young contributed with six runs.
Freshman Linsey Hays has performed as advertised as she uses her power to drive balls deep.
Hays’ first hit of the season was a home run, and she has added another one against Pacific with the wind blowing in the opposite direction.
Hays has 12 hits, nine runs and seven RBIs so far this season.
Another strong freshman is right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns. After being pulled out of her redshirt a week before the season began, she has pitched well after her first career start.
Stearns has won four straight, which included a no-hitter after the loss in her first career start. Stearns has also closed a game against Pacific and didn’t give up a run in that game. For the season, Stearns has an ERA of .85 and has allowed only five runs. Stearns also contributed offensively with a run and four RBIs.
“I just think Heather coming in, in a closing situation, [it] was nice to see her do that,” junior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion said. “We all have to learn how to close a game and seeing her close a game like that was good.”
Baylor’s freshmen have also stepped up defensively. Smith has had to learn the third base position, and second baseman Robin Landrith continues to make her presence known with her effective defense.
Baylor keeps getting better as their offense continues to produce and the defense does its job.
Pitching has been consistent, and with the contributions of the freshman class, Baylor must be thinking that it has something special brewing.