Baylor softball ready for home opener

SWINGING FOR THE FENCES Baylor senior INF Riley Browder warms up during a game against McNeese State on Feb. 13, 2016 in Waco. The Lady Bears lost the game 3-1. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer

Heading into last weekend’s trip to Tucson, Ariz., Baylor softball had a lot of questions to try and answer. What was the team’s identity? How would the pitching hold up against elite competition? With so many new faces, how would the freshmen respond?

After finishing 3-2, Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said he thinks he had a lot of those questions answered.

“We learned a lot about our team, a lot of positive things. I thought we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost, but we grew a lot from the weekend,” Moore said. “We had quality competition, and we were concerned with our pitching going in. We just knew we need some questions answered, and I think we got those answered. We feel pretty good about our bullpen now that we know we’re capable of competing against top lineups, and we faced everybody’s number one [pitcher] so that’s a sign of respect. Outside of the first outing against Fordham (1-0 loss), we performed well offensively. I think we came away with what we needed to see from the team.”

Now Baylor will turn its attention to the 16th annual Getterman Classic, beginning tonight. The Lady Bears play host to the four-day tournament and will entertain the University of Texas San Antonio, Grand Canyon University, Lamar and the University of North Texas.

Moore said it’s always nice to be back in front of a home crowd after playing a tournament away.

“We always like playing in Getterman Stadium,” Moore said. “It’s still one of the top facilities in the country, and we like protecting our backyard and playing in front of the fans.”

For senior pitcher Kelsee Selman, it’s about the home atmosphere and getting comfortable in front of the home crowd.

“It will be really nice to get back to Getterman,” Selman said. “Get the fans there and get to see a normal surrounding after playing away last weekend.”

Although Baylor, who enters the tournament No. 23/No. 24 in the most recent coaches poll, is the only ranked team participating in the tournament, Moore said his team will not overlook anyone.

“They’re competitive teams,” Moore said. “Last year, we thought North Texas did some damage to our postseason hosting chances, so it’s a field we don’t take lightly. It can get you better.”

The field begins with Texas San Antonio, which enters at 1-2 overall after dropping two to New Mexico State last weekend. Grand Canyon University swept a three-game series with both Northern Colorado and Bradley and will make the trip to Waco undefeated at 6-0. Lamar University enters 2-3, but dropped two one-run games to No. 17 Texas A&M last weekend and an Ohio State team that is receiving votes in this week’s poll. The North Texas Mean Green enters at 1-3 and struggled offensively, being shut out in three of its four games.

Baylor, despite its two losses, was extremely successful offensively. The Lady Bears hit .346 as a team, scored 25 runs on 45 hits, eight of which went for extra base hits, including two home runs.

Leading the way for the Baylor offensive attack was sophomore outfielder Kyla Walker. She was seven of 14 at the plate, driving in six runs, and registered the team’s lone triple on the season.

For Walker, last weekend was about settling the nerves. Now it’s about building off that effort and confidence.

“I’m excited. Last weekend I was more nervous because it was our first weekend,” Walker said. “But now we’re more confident. I think we should go undefeated this weekend if we play like we can.”

Baylor will take on UTSA beginning at 6 p.m. today at Getterman Stadium.