Softball takes on Cowgirls

Softball vs Illinois State at Getterman Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Softball vs Illinois State at Getterman Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
Softball vs Illinois State at Getterman Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
By Parmida Schahhosseini
Sports Writer

The No. 16 Baylor Lady Bears will continue conference play with a three-game series against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls. The first game will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Getterman Stadium.

The next two games of the series are on Saturday and Sunday. Oklahoma State is 29-20 against Baylor, but Baylor won two out of three games in the series last year.

After losing three straight games against No. 1 Oklahoma, Baylor (30-10, 3-5 Big 12) got a much needed win against Texas State on Tuesday. Junior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion struck out 10 batters in the win, and junior first baseman Holly Holl went 3-4, hit a home run and had four RBIs.

Oklahoma State (24-17, 2-4 Big 12) has lost four of its last six games after getting swept in the series against Iowa State. The Cowgirls are better offensively in Big 12 games with a .291 batting average. The Cowgirls also have a .400 fielding percentage overall and a .404 fielding percentage in Big 12 games.

Baylor and Oklahoma State started their seasons in similar fashions. The Lady Bears had a 14-game winning streak and the Cowgirls had a 12-game winning streak before hitting a rocky stretch in their schedules.

Both teams have also lost three consecutive Big 12 games, the only difference being that Baylor lost to the No. 1 team in the nation in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State has four players hitting over .300, with junior catcher Tarah Ettinger leading the team with a .355 batting average. Ettinger also has 43 hits, seven home runs and 31 RBI to her credit. Senior Tamara Brown is hitting .330 while scoring 27 runs. Brown also has 38 hits, including 10 doubles. Junior second baseman Ari Morrison is batting .455 and has hit a home run. Morrison also has 15 hits and two doubles.

Baylor’s pitching staff needs to remain consistent if they want to win. Collectively, the pitching staff is ranked No. 14 nationally and No. 3 in the Big 12 with a 1.76 ERA.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns (9-4) is No. 6 in the Big 12 with a 1.65 ERA. Stearns has only allowed 19 earned runs, while striking out 100 batters. She has shown promise in high-pressure situations as she helped the Lady Bears to a comeback win against Iowa State by not allowing any hits.

Canion is No. 7 in the Big 12 despite struggling as of late. Canion has a 1.83 ERA, allowing 36 earned runs while striking out 183 batters.

Inside the circle for the Cowgirls, junior right-handed pitcher Simone Freeman (11-7) has a 2.18 ERA and has struck out 145 batters. Senior right-handed pitcher Kat Espinosa (13-10) has a 2.26 ERA and struck out 160 batters.

The Lady Bears have struggled offensively, but senior center fielder Kathy Shelton has displayed her leadership by producing on the field. Shelton is No. 2 in the Big 12 with 53 hits and sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann is No. 3 with 51 hits.

The duo also is first and second respectively in stolen bases with Shelton stealing 27 and Thumann stealing 23.

Holl’s batting average is below .300, but she has drawn walks frequently. She is currently No. 8 in the Big 12 at 25 walks drawn.