By Shehan Jeyarajah
No. 15 Baylor softball moved to 12-3 on the season after a 4-1 weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
The Bears had wins against No. 18 Missouri, No. 11 Stanford, California and Northwestern to go along with a loss to Cal State Fullerton.
After beating Missouri in the final game of the Getterman Classic in Waco, Baylor took the rematch over the Tigers 3-2 on Thursday night in Palm Springs with sophomore pitcher Heather Stearns on the mound.
Missouri got on the board first in the second inning after a double from first baseman Kelsea Roth led to an RBI double from catcher Kirsten Mack for a 1-0 lead.
Baylor struggled to get on the board early, but found their offense in the fourth inning. Third baseman Sarah Smith hit a single to set up a two-run home run by left fielder Linsey Hays to push Baylor to a 2-1 lead. First baseman Holly Holl added an RBI single to drive in junior shortstop Jordan Strickland from second for three runs in the fourth.
Speedy outfielder Taylor Gadbois hit a single to open the fifth inning. Missouri shortstop Sami Fagan drove Gadbois in on a double to cut the lead to 3-2, but Baylor held on to win.
Holl and Smith each finished with two hits on the day. Holl added an RBI. Hays had two RBIs on her game-changing home run.
Stearns allowed two earned runs in five innings to go along with five strikeouts. Senior pitcher Whitney Canion got the save after allowing only one hit in two relief innings.
Baylor issued the first loss of the season to the previously undefeated Stanford Cardinals 7-1 in their first game on Friday with Canion on the mound.
Baylor got off to a quick start in the first inning. On the second Stanford pitch of the game, right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann smashed a home run to center field for the first run of the game. Center fielder Lindsey Cargill singled to set up an RBI double from Smith. In the next at-bat, Hays singled to drive in Smith and push Baylor’s lead out to 3-0 after one.
The Bears kept their momentum rolling into the third inning. Hays walked to open the inning, and catcher Clare Hosack singled to put runners on first and second. Strickland walked to load the bases for designated player Robin Landrith to hit an RBI single to drive home pinch runner Justine Young. Holl hit into a double play, but Hosack scored on the sacrifice to push Baylor’s lead to 5-0 over the undefeated Cardinals.
Hosack added a home run as insurance in the bottom of the fifth. Second baseman Ari Hawkins scored in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single from Cargill.
Stanford scored their lone unearned run on an RBI single from outfielder Bessie Noll. It was not enough, and Baylor took this one 7-1.
Seven different players had RBIs in this one for the Bears. Cargill led the way with three hits, an RBI and a run scored.
Canion threw a masterful complete game, allowing only four hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts and no earned runs allowed against a usually dominant offensive team.
The Bears had a letdown game against Cal State Fullerton the afternoon after the Stanford game, dropping this one 6-1 for their third loss of the season and Stearns’ first loss.
CSFU opened the game with an unearned run after a series of walks and muffed throws.
Baylor struck back after Cargill reached base on an error and Hosack drew a bases-loaded walk to drive Cargill in to tie the game at 1-1.
CSFU scored on a solo home run from infielder Gabby Aragon, followed by another home run from infielder Eliza Crawford to push the lead out to 3-1.
Cal State-Fullerton scored three more after a three-run home run from utility player Samantha Galarza to push their lead to the deciding 6-1.
Stearns took the loss after allowing two earned runs in 2.1 innings. Senior reliever Liz Paul allowed the three-run homer in 4.2 innings of work.
Baylor rebounded with a 13-0 drubbing of California.
“It’s just what you want to see after a loss; a statement from your team that says, we’re better than that,” coach Glenn Moore said. “It’s a very difficult field of teams, and to win convincingly against a good team like Cal requires great play on both sides of the ball.”
Baylor had runners on first and second early in the first inning after consecutive singles. Hays singled to drive in Cargill to put Baylor on the board.
A wild pitch by Cal allowed Young and Thumann to advance to third and second respectively, and Cargill drove in Young on a fielder’s choice to make it 2-0 in the second inning.
Thumann and Cargill had consecutive RBI singles in the fourth to drive in Hawkins and Thumann respectively. Hosack scored on an illegal pitch from the Golden Bears and Landrith hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Strickland in the fifth and give Baylor a 6-0 lead. Cargill added another run scored on a sacrifice fly from Hosack in the sixth.
The Bears exploded offensively in the seventh inning. Outfielder Sam Montes walked to put runners on first and second. Young singled again to load the bases to set up a bases loaded walk for Stearns. Smith singled to drive home another run. With two outs in the seventh, Hosack hit a grand slam to give Baylor an insurmountable 13-0 lead.
Canion and Paul combined to allow only two hits and no runs. Hosack added five RBIs and two runs scored.
Baylor closed the Nutter Classic with a 4-0 win over Northwestern.
Hawkins was hit by a pitch in the second inning and stole second. Young reached base on an error and Hawkins scored an unearned run. Young stole third and Thumann walked to put runners on first and third. Thumann stole second and then Young scored on a muffed throw. Thumann added another run on a fielding error.
Baylor scored three runs on no hits thanks to three errors by Northwestern.
Young singled in the fourth and Thumann drove her in with an RBI double to give Baylor an insurance run.
Canion threw another complete game shutout, allowing only four hits and striking out eight. Young had two hits and scored two runs.
After the tournament, Baylor moved to 12-3 on the season, including 7-2 in neutral-site games. They have defeated three straight ranked opponents.
The Bears will play a double-header at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night against Southern Mississippi.