By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
With a spot in Sunday’s Waco Regional Final, two of the best pitchers in the country squared off as Baylor senior Kelsee Selman out-dueled James Madison junior Megan Good and Baylor rallied late for a 4-2 win over the Dukes Saturday afternoon at Getterman Stadium.
Selman (23-8) settled down after allowing three hits, all extra base hits including a home run in the third, holding the Dukes to just more hit over the final four innings. The fourth hit was a one out single in the seventh but the runner was erased as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year junior center fielder Jessie Scroggins threw in behind the runner who was tagged out after rounding the base.
Selman struck out eight, walked one and retired 13 in a row after the home run in going the distance for the Lady Bears.
Selman credits her pitching coach Britni Newman for calling the right pitches to help her keep JMU off balance.
“Trusting in Coach Newman. She’s such a good pitch caller. I just communicated with her immediately after that and we changed up the pitches I was doing,” Selman said. “Trusting in Newman and the defense behind me to make great plays, which they did the whole game. It’s easy to pitch when you have that kind of defense and pitch calling.”
As good as Selman was, for 5 2/3 innings Good was even better. She kept Baylor off balance, inducing 12 groundouts and retiring the Lady Bears fairly easily. But Good missed with one rise ball that turned out to be the difference as junior first baseman Shelby Friudenberg played the hero for Baylor in the sixth inning.
Facing Good for the third time with runners on first and second and two outs, Friudenberg turned on a pitch up in the zone and drilled it over the wall in the center, putting Baylor in front 4-2.
Friudenberg said she wasn’t even sure if it was a home run or not because she never saw it signaled by the umpire crew.
“It felt a little bit jammed right away so I was a little bit nervous that they would catch in the outfield,” Friudenberg said. “At Getterman, you never know if the wind is going to catch it and it didn’t thankfully. I never saw anyone call it so I just had to run really fast.”
Sophomore outfielder Kyla Walker got the two out rally going with an infield single to third, her second hit of the game. Senior second baseman Ari Hawkins kept it going and got it to Friudenberg with a sharp single to center.
Good (37-2) lost for just the second time all season and the four runs she allowed is the most she’s allowed this year.
Good said as soon as she saw Friudenberg make contact with the rise ball, she knew she was in trouble.
“I just let one of my pitches float over a little bit and she got a hold of it. That is to be expected because they’re great hitters,” Good said. “I knew when she hit it. I knew right away that she hit it hard.”
After a slow start offensively against Kent State, Baylor looked to be more aggressive earlier in the count against Wood. The Lady Bears wasted little time with the new approach. Senior third baseman Lindsey Cargill was the catalyst for Baylor, ripping a sharp single to left center on the first pitch she saw from Wood in the bottom of the first. After a groundout by Walker and a sacrifice bunt from Hawkins got Cargill to third, a high pitch that ricocheted off the glove of JMU freshman catcher Kierstin Roadcap allowed Cargill to sprint home to score the game’s first run.
James Madison had an opportunity in the second after senior right fielder Taylor Newton took the first pitch she saw from Selman and tripled off the wall in left center. However, a diving stop and throw from freshman shortstop Taylor Ellis not only retired the runner but it also kept Newton at third. After a walk and stolen base put runners on second and third with two outs, Selman got the strikeout to end the threat.
After failing to capitalize on a scoring opportunity in the second, the Dukes did not squander a second chance in the third. After Roadcap doubled to the identical spot of Newman’s triple in the second, junior outfielder Morgan Tolle took advantage of a 2-1 pitch from Selman and drove it over the wall in left for her sixth home run of the season.
Walker gave the Lady Bears a chance in the fourth, opening the frame with a bunt single but was stranded at second. Her single in the sixth would start the rally that puts Baylor one win away from a trip to the Super Regionals.
Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said that he likes his team’s odds knowing that someone has to find a way to beat them twice.
“It’s like we’ve talked about all week, you’ve got to be 2-0. I wouldn’t feel real good about us being 1-1 and having to come back and play another one later tonight,” Moore said. “We’ll be more rested and somebody’s got to beat us twice now and that’s hard to do. It could be done and we won’t take it for granted. We’ll be ready to play.”
Baylor (45-12) will meet the winner of Saturday night’s game between James Madison and the winner of Kent State/Oregon State at 1 p.m. Sunday