By Parmida Schahhosseini
After splitting two games against North Texas, the No. 16 Baylor Lady Bears will play a double-header against the University of Houston Cougars at 4 p.m. today at Getterman Stadium before resuming conference play.
“These were important midweek games for us to be able to use our bullpen and bench,” head coach Glenn Moore said after the North Texas matchup. “Now we will take a few days off and come back ready for the final stretch of the season.”
The Cougars (31-15) have won five of their last eight games, including two wins against No. 22 Tulsa. Despite the Cougars’ 17-10 home record, most of their wins have come on the road. They only lost five out of 19 games away from home. However, the team did lose its last two road games.
Baylor will look to continue the Cougars’ road woes and try and record a sweep. However, it will not be easy for the Lady Bears due to the efficiency of Houston’s offense. While the Cougars have only out-hit their opponents 337-305, the Cougars make the plays when it counts. Houston has outscored its opponent 241-160 and has 212 RBIs compared to the 140 from its opponents.
Houston has five players batting over .300, three of which are batting over .350.
Senior infielder Holly Anderson leads the team with 50 hits and is second on the team with a .368 batting average.
Junior catcher Holly Outon leads the team with a .369 batting average and 51 RBIs. Outon also generated 45 hits and scored 32 runs.
Junior infielder Kendra Cullum leads the team with 40 runs despite her .250 batting average, while adding 25 hits and 13 RBIs.
Baylor’s pitching staff will need to be ready. Despite struggles against No. 1 Oklahoma, junior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion and freshman right-handed pitcher Heather Stearns have been consistent inside the circle. Stearns and Canion both pitched against North Texas and didn’t give up a run. Stearns allowed two hits in three innings, and Canion didn’t allow a hit in the two innings she pitched.
Canion (18-6) has a 1.61 ERA and has struck out 203 batters while only giving up 85 hits and 48 runs. Canion has walked 68 batters but has been steadily reducing that number recently. In the last two games against Oklahoma State, Canion only allowed three walks.
“[Assistant] coach [Britni Sneed] Newman helped me with one thing in my wind up that must have clicked and kept going,” Canion said. “I stuck with it and it’s great that we have film to watch because I can see myself from the front, the back, we watched just good things on me, bad things and even past film from two years ago to figure this out. I hope this sticks with me.”
Stearns has been just as effective with a 1.57 ERA. Stearns has struck out 127 batters while allowing 62 hits and 30 runs. However, Stearns only allowed 21 walks this season. She credits her strong pitching to the effectiveness of her changeup. As a unit, Baylor’s pitching staff has a 1.69 ERA.
The Cougars’ pitching staff has been solid with a 2.15 ERA collectively. Junior Bailey Watts (16-4) has a 2.15 ERA and has struck out 92 batters but has allowed 114 hits, 53 runs and 59 walks. Sophomore Summer Groholski (5-4) has a 3.08 ERA and struck out 36 batters, but allowed 67 hits and 35 runs.
Baylor’s offense has been in a slump lately, so these games could be used as confidence boosters. Senior center fielder Kathy Shelton and sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann both lead the team with 57 hits, which is also tied for second in the Big 12. Thumann also leads the team in runs with 37. Shelton’s aggressiveness and speed have allowed her to steal 32 bases, which is first in the Big 12.
“It’s definitely helpful,” Shelton said in regards to her speed. “Coach Moore loves to run, so he likes when I’m on base because he loves to give me the steal sign and I like to run too. It gives your team energy when you see someone steal a base.”
Freshman third baseman Sarah Smith leads the team with a .396 batting average and four home runs along with freshman outfielder Linsey Hays and junior first baseman Holly Holl.
Holl’s batting average may be down from last year at .271, but she finds a way to get on base. Holl leads the team in walks by drawing 26.
Baylor will be looking for a sweep before resuming conference play against Kansas on Friday.