Canion dominates as softball wins Regional opener

Baylor Athletic Communications

Baylor senior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion was locked in Friday night, tying a postseason career high with 15 strikeouts in the Lady Bears’ 6-1 win over Northwestern State (La.) at Getterman Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA Softball Tournament.

Canion moved to 27-9 on the season and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning to help Baylor stay in the winner’s bracket of the four-team double-elimination round. Canion set the tone by striking out the side in the top of the first, and then she got help from a fellow senior as Holly Holl hit a three-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to give her ace a cushion.

From there, Canion only got into trouble in the sixth inning when Shenequia Abby broke up the no-hitter with one-out infield single followed by an RBI triple from NSU’s Tara McKenney. Those would be the only two hits Canion would allow, and she walked only one in her 12th career postseason victory.

Holl’s homer was the third of her postseason career and the eighth of the season for the first baseman. Kaitlyn Thumann added a solo home run in the third inning for her first postseaon homer and eighth homer of 2014. Thumann’s multi-hit game was the 21st of the season and extended her on-base streak to 21 games.

Jordan Strickland also had a big night with two hits, increasing her all-time postseason average to .500 (15-for-30).

Baylor stays in the winner’s bracket along with Tulsa, who scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday to defeat Houston, 2-1. This sets up two of the top pitchers in the nation to face one another as Canion will go to work against Tulsa senior Aimee Creger. Creger improved to 28-1 on the season with her win Friday and carries a 1.24 ERA into Saturday’s game with Baylor at Noon.

Canion’s ERA is at 1.42, and coming in Tulsa’s pitching staff boasted the No. 4 team ERA in the nation against Baylor’s sixth-best mark.

Houston and Northwestern State will play in the first elimination game of the tournament Saturday at 2:30 p.m., and the winner of that game will play the loser of Baylor and Tulsa at 5 p.m. to determine the final two teams standing. Championshp Sunday is set to begin at 1 p.m.