By Parmida Schahhosseini
It has been less than a week since the No. 17 Baylor Lady Bears made a statement and upset No. 3 Arizona State 6-2 in the last game of the Wilson DeMarini Invitational on Sunday in Tempe, Ariz. Baylor will play a three-game series against Purdue, beginning with a double header at noon on Saturday and concluding with a game at noon on Sunday in Getterman Stadium.
Purdue is on a five-game winning streak after defeating Texas A&M Corpus Christi twice, Texas State twice and North Texas.
If Purdue beats Baylor, it would be its first win over a ranked team in six tries this season. The Boiler Makers are batting .278 for the season and have six players batting .250 or higher. At .453, outfielder Andie Varsho has 11 RBIs, 12 runs and 12 stolen bases. Second baseman Ashley Burkhardt leads the team with 16 runs scored and has eight RBIs.
Purdue’s pitchers have combined for a 1.92 ERA and 84 strikeouts. Sophomore Lely Moore has a shutout to her credit and has struck out 31 batters in 47 innings. Sophomore Alex Whittemore won her only start with a .50 ERA, striking out 11 players in 14 innings.
Baylor has won 18 of its last 19 games, including an upset against the Sun Devils.
“We are playing well as a team right now and getting better,” head coach Glenn Moore said.
Junior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion is still working on her pitches after coming off an ACL tear last season. However, Canion is still effective with a 1.18 ERA and 92 strikeouts. Senior Courtney Repka is undefeated with a .44 ERA. Freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns has yet to lose a game after her first start and is pitching effectively with an ERA of .90 and 54 strikeouts.
“I just think Heather coming in, in a closing situation, [it] was nice to see her do that,” Canion said after a game against Pacific. “We all have to learn how to close a game and seeing her close a game like that was good.”
Baylor’s offense combines speed and power, posing a dual threat. The team is batting .318 on the year.
Despite stranding runners, Baylor has been able to score runs, putting pressure on other teams. The at-bats for Baylor have been consistent. Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann, with a .418 batting average, leads Baylor in runs with 22. Thumann also has 28 hits, two home runs and 14 RBIs.
Senior center fielder Kathy Shelton has also been productive, batting .378 with 14 runs, 28 hits and 14 RBIs. Freshman third baseman Sarah Smith has contributed 11 RBI, 11 runs, 27 hits and three home runs with a .491 batting average.
“We have more confidence up to the plate,” Smith said.
Redshirt freshman outfielder Linsey Hays has been giving Baylor the production it was looking for on offense with her power swings.
She was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career, and she is the first freshman to receive this award in 2013. Hays played a strong game against Arizona State, going three-of-four with two RBIs and a home run. Hays leads Baylor in home runs with four, and RBIs with 15.