Stearns strong, leads Baylor past Oklahoma State

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

It was a pitching duel as the No. 16 Baylor Lady Bears defeated the Oklahoma State Cowgirls 2-0 on Friday. The Lady Bears needed a win to get their conference record over .500.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns was on the mound and almost pitched a perfect game. Stearns only allowed one hit, which came at the top of the sixth inning. She struck out 11 batters on the day.

“I was just really mixing it up, hitting my corners, keeping them guessing,” Stearns said. “Just making them guess and now know where I am going to throw the ball.”

Despite struggling offensively, the pitching and the defense came through, allowing Baylor to capitalize on a double error by Oklahoma State. The Lady Bears generated six hits, but only scored two runs as they kept stranding runners on base.

“Good pitching beats good hitting, and that was an example of that philosophy right there,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “Anytime you have good consistent pitching around the zone, it frees the defense up and relaxes them a little bit, and then when you’re able to scratch across a couple of runs, you feel a lot better.”

Freshman third baseman Sarah Smith continued to hit well, going 2-3 and a RBI and junior first baseman Holly Holl went 2-for-2 and scored a run.

Stearns started the game strong, striking out the first six out of seven batters. Oklahoma State catcher Tamara Brown almost singled to the left side, but Smith made a play on a line drive to get the out.

“I kind of just stabbed at it and hoped I would catch it,” Smith said. “I caught it and my glove was kind of bent in the inside and that’s why it didn’t look like I didn’t catch it, but I caught it.”

Oklahoma State pitcher Kat Espinosa struck out six batters despite allowing six hits and two runs, which came on an error by the right fielder Erika Campbell.

The pitching by Oklahoma State kept the team in the game. When the score was tied at zero, third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson drew a walk and later stole second. After a sacrifice bunt by center fielder Shelby Davis a runner was on third with an out. However, Stearns works out of a jam with back-to-back strikeouts.

Baylor had runners on base in every inning but couldn’t capitalize. At the bottom of the third with two outs, Holl drew a walk and Smith singled to right field, however another out stranded the two base runners.

In the fifth inning, Baylor made some noise. Sophomore right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann singled up the middle and Holl followed with a bunt single. Next, Smith singled to right field and advanced to second on an error by Campbell and then advanced to third after Campbell bobbled the ball. Thumann and Holl scored. Junior catcher Clare Hosack drew a walk but another out ended the inning.

Baylor was looking to add more after a double from sophomore shortstop Jordan Strickland, but Thumann lined into a double play to second baseman Ari Morrison who threw it to first baseman Tarah Ettinger to get Shelton out. Baylor retired the next three batters to end the game.

Baylor will continue its series against Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. Saturday at Getterman Stadium.