By Cody Soto
USA Today named No. 14 Baylor softball one of the top 10 college for women’s Division I softball. Recently, it has shown why.
The Bears (28-7, 5-1 Big 12) are in the midst of a five-match non-conference slate this week as they travel to three schools, but the determination is still there. The winning mindset won’t go away.
While the Bears have had some tough showings against several ranked opponents, the physical and mental toughness comes out of the relatively young Baylor roster when the time comes. Baylor handed conference opponent Texas Tech three straight losses last weekend at Getterman Stadium, but the final game wasn’t easy.
It tested the team’s ability to get down to the grind, and the Bears walked away with a 6-5 extra-inning win on Sunday.
“That win showed how well we could come together as a team,” senior outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann said. “I think we used every single person on the bench, and we found a way to score that winning run. It shows a lot about our team. We’re not giving to give up or give in. We’re going to respond well under pressure.”
Although the team is not in conference play, it is using this opportunity to boost its level of play and prepare itself for the postseason. No. 9 Louisiana-Lafayette stands at the end of its five-game road trip as both top 15 teams meet in Lafayette, La., this weekend for a three-game series.
“When you’re playing on the road, there are no distractions. It’s good bonding, and we play some good teams,” Thumann said. “It’s going to be a tough series because we’re in their ballpark. They’re a good power hitting team, but we can compete with them and beat them.”
It’s not just a road series; it’s another chance for the Bears to prove themselves.
“It puts us in the position to really doctor our resume to benefit us in the postseason,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “To go down [to Louisiana] to get a win or two would be special for us, but we’re going to have to play really well to win in that environment.”
The Bears are pushing toward making another postseason run, but they will have to overcome a wrinkle that Moore has tried to iron out: inconsistency.
“I’ve preached that a lot over the past couple of weeks, and I feel like we’ve been swinging the bat really well but haven’t had a lot to show for it,” Moore said. “I would like to see more consistency in the circle. I want our pitchers to be in sync.”
Despite the bouts of inconsistency at times throughout this season, Moore and the Bears have won 13 of their last 15 games. As exciting as that sounds, they feel like they haven’t reached their maximum potential, Thumann said.
“We still haven’t completely busted open yet,” Thumann said. “We haven’t come what we could be, but we’re going to get there. This trip could be that point for us. It’s all about finishing strong. We’re about to bust through that wall.”
Thumann has also been named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award given by the NCAA to Division I softball players. The winner is evaluated in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. When asked about the honor, all she could do was smile.
“I’m very humbled by it. It’s a cool experience and an honor even to be considered in the top 10,” she said. “There are so many great girls out there, and in this sport you need to stay true to yourself to be good in softball. Better person, better player.”
Baylor heads to McNeese State for a 6 p.m. game today, and quickly travels to Lafayette, La., for a three-game matchup with the Ragin’ Cajuns on Friday and Saturday.