By Shehan Jeyarajah
For a while, Whitney Canion could do no wrong. The sixth-year senior pitcher has been one of the best pitchers in collegiate softball since arriving in Waco, including being named an All-American in 2011. On Tuesday at Getterman Stadium, Canion displayed complete dominance on the mound.
Canion struck out 10 of 19 batters faced, and No. 12 Baylor softball defeated Texas State 2-0 to move to 23-4 and 6-1 at home.
Canion struck out three straight batters to open the game, and Baylor took advantage. Junior right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann led off with a walk for Baylor. Freshman second baseman Ari Hawkins sacrificed Thumann to second in the next at-bat. Down 0-2 in the count, senior catcher Clare Hosack blasted a home run to give Baylor an early 2-0 lead.
“You always want to get ahead in the first inning,” Hosack said. “Doing that takes a little pressure off the pitcher and gives us a little more room to have fun and just play.”
Canion threw 3.2 innings of perfect baseball before allowing a walk to first baseman Kendall Wiley in the fourth. Over that stretch, Canion faced 11 batters and struck out eight.
Canion’s no-hit bid was broken up in the sixth inning by right fielder Bianca Prado’s single.
“It’s very frustrating to lose it that way,” Canion said. “Rarely do I come off the field in a good mood, but I know if it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be.”
Canion threw 5.2 innings and allowed one hit and one walk against 19 batters. She added 10 strikeouts, or a strikeout every nine pitches. To put that into perspective, losing pitcher Rayn House threw 105 pitches over six innings and struck out a batter every 35 pitches.
“You want to get a pitcher on a positive incline,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “She felt she’s in the zone for the first time in a couple of years probably. She wasn’t even just looking at a no-hitter, but a perfect game for a while too. Ari made a great play almost saving it for her.”
Sophomore pitcher Heather Stearns earned the save after throwing 1.1 innings of hitless softball.
Despite the win, Moore was displeased with the lack of offense after the first inning.
“I think it’s a mentality,” Moore said. “We were going to take tomorrow off and do conditioning, now we’re coming back and practicing offense because we need it.”
With the win against Texas State, Baylor moved to 23-4. The Bears have won 11 straight games, including a perfect 5-0 in the USF Spring Break Invitational in Florida.
“Fans like to talk about peaking early,” Moore said. “As a coach, you want this team to peak as early as you possibly can. I want them playing well the second they hit the field. You’re going to stay at a higher place whenever you’re coming out of the blocks hard. That’s the way we want to play every time we step on the field.”
Baylor will play a two-game series against Texas on Saturday and Sunday at Getterman Stadium in Waco.