By Shehan Jeyarajah
Sometimes, all you need is a spark. Coming off of a dominant 7-1 win against UTSA on Wednesday, it seemed as though the Baylor bats finally came to life once again.
The offensive exhibition continued into game one of the weekend’s series against Kansas in Waco, as No. 14 Baylor (34-12, 7-4) took care of Kansas (29-17, 3-7) in a 7-0 shutout on Friday night at Getterman Stadium.
Junior right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann nearly cleared the fence in the leadoff spot, but settled for a double to deep right field. Freshman second baseman Ari Hawkins added a single and stole second, and senior catcher Clare Hosack walked to load the bases with no outs on the board.
Sophomore third baseman Sarah Smith hit a sacrifice fly to score Thumann and senior first baseman Holly Holl added a sacrifice of her own in the next at-bat to score Hawkins and give Baylor a 2-0 lead after one inning.
The offensive performance continued into the third. Hosack singled and Holl doubled down the right field line to advance Hosack to third with one out. Junior shortstop Jordan Strickland came up, who is riding a hot streak that earned her Big 12 Player of the Week honors. She delivered once more with a two-RBI double to score both Hosack and Holl and give Baylor a 4-0 lead.
Pitching for the third time in four days, senior starter Whitney Canion struggled with her control in the circle. In four innings, Canion walked three, including two in the second inning, but she did not allow a run.
After four, Baylor coach Glenn Moore decided to substitute relief pitcher Liz Paul, who pitched three hitless innings to earn the nine-out save.
Baylor’s offense was not done after four however. In the fourth, left fielder Justine Young singled, Thumann walked and Hawkins added a bunt single to load the bases without any outs. In a 10-pitch at-bat with a full count, Hosack earned a bases loaded walk to put Baylor on the board again. Third baseman Robin Landrith hit a sacrifice fly to add another run, and the Bears took a six run lead out of the fourth.
Thumann walked and stole second in the sixth, and Landrith hit an RBI single to give Baylor a commanding 7-0 lead that they would go on to win by.
Canion took 72 pitches to get through three innings, but she still was able to put the Jayhawks away for the majority of the game. When it was all said and done, Kansas was shutout and only allowed three hits in seven innings.
Baylor’s top two hitters have been on a tear as of late. After a 1-for-2 with two walks performance in this one, Thumann improved her batting average to .512 while moving her on-base percentage up to a ridiculous .503, meaning she gets on base more often than she does not. She is on a nine-game hitting streak. Hawkins is in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak, and has hit .519 over that stretch as a true freshman.
Even more than effective hitting was timely hitting, which Baylor has struggled with recently. The Bears got a hit in all five opportunities there were with a runner on third and less than two outs.
Following the win, and a Texas loss to Oklahoma State on Friday night, the Bears moved into a tie for second place in the Big 12 softball standings, trailing only No. 12 Oklahoma.
Baylor will play again on Saturday and Sunday against the Jayhawks. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday at Getterman. Saturday will be the first ever West Day and Sunday will be the annual Senior Night.