By Shehan Jeyarajah
After their hot start to open the season, No. 12 Baylor softball was tested in a mid-week double-header against Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. The Bears split the games, losing 4-3 in extra innings to start, but exploding out to a 12-0 run-rule win in the second.
Neither teams seemed to be able to get any consistent offense throughout regulation. The two teams combined for 10 hits, but no runs were scored through seven innings.
Entering the top of the ninth, it was a 0-0 ballgame in Huntsville, but then Baylor’s offense came to life. Senior first baseman Holly Holl hit a leadoff home run for the first run of the afternoon.
Freshman outfielder Christy Linsenby hit a single soon afterwards to put runners on first and second. After a sacrifice grounder from junior right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann, second baseman Ari Hawkins came to bat. The freshman reached base on an error, and Lisenby scored from third. Sophomore outfielder Linsey Hays hit a sacrifice fly to drive in another runner, and Baylor seemed to be riding fine with a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the tenth.
Sam Houston State infielder Alyssa Coggins singled and advanced outfielder Tayler Gray to second. Freshman infielder Tori Koerselmen followed it up with a single to load the bases without any outs in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Pitcher Whitney Canion replaced the senior reliever Liz Paul and walked junior infielder Hillary Adams, driving in Gray for SHSU’s first run of the game. Senior outfielder Cecilia Castillo singled next to drive in Coggins and cut Baylor’s lead to 3-2. Sophomore Tiffany Castillo drew another bases-loaded walk, which tied the game at 3-3. Canion then threw a wild pitch that scored the pinch-runner and clinched the game.
Canion took the loss after allowing two earned runs against five batters faced in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Baylor came out in the second half of the double-header looking for blood. The Bears struck right away as senior catcher Clare Hosack blasted a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to give Baylor the 2-0 advantage.
Sam Houston State mustered only one hit through the first three innings, and Baylor’s offense took advantage in the fourth.
Hosack struck out to lead off the inning, but a wild pitch from junior pitcher Meme Quinn allowed her to reach base anyway. Junior third baseman Sarah Smith hit a homer in the next at-bat to drive in Hosack and give Baylor the 4-0 advantage. Sophomore outfielder Justine Young singled in the next at-bat and was immediately driven in by a two-run homer from junior shortstop Jordan Strickland.
The Bearkats replaced Quinn with junior pitcher Haley Baros, but the right-hander could not stop the bleeding. Baros allowed a single to the Lisenby, the first batter she faced, and subsequently walked Thumann. After the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, Hawkins smashed a double to left field to drive in Lisenby. Hays singled to drive in Thumann in the next at-bat.
With the bases loaded once again, Smith hit a single up the middle to drive in two more runs. After Young loaded the bases with another single, Holl singled to drive Hosack home. Linsenby singled to drive in another run, but was called out on a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
When the dust cleared, Baylor led 12-0. The game was called for run-rule after five innings.
After a shaky blown save in her first appearance, Canion allowed only two hits against 17 batters faced, striking out three and picking up her 13th win. Quinn took the loss after six earned runs allowed.
“Obviously, we would have liked to have swept the two games, but middle of the week games are designed to prepare you for the weekend schedule,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “I was pleased with the way the team responded at the plate in the second game.”
Baylor softball will continue conference play with a three-game series against Texas Tech. First pitch is 7 p.m. on Friday night in Lubbock.