Rodoni opens season with no-hitter in Northwestern State win

Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter

The last time junior pitcher Gia Rodoni took the mound for the Lady Bears at Getterman Stadium, she completed her second no-hitter in three days, lifting Baylor to a Super Regionals rematch with Arizona.

As part of the NCAA Waco Regional, Rodoni struck out three in a 1-0 win over Kent State and two in a 1-0 win over James Madison.

On Friday night, she picked up right where she left off. The Los Banos, Calif. native tossed her third straight no-hitter at home, striking out 11 while giving up just one walk as the Lady Bears shutout Northwestern 8-0 in five innings to open the 2018 season.

“I love this place, nothing better than playing with my best friends, so it’s a good time,” Rodoni said. “We just wanted to come in and dominate at home. We had a great season last year and we just wanted to pick up where we left off. I think we did a great job of that tonight.”

Rodoni was in command from the get-go, striking out the first nine batters she face, keeping them off balance and overmatched with a mix of screwballs, changeups and riseballs.

Baylor senior catcher Carlee Wallace, who caught Rodoni said that it was her aggressive approach with each hitter that set her on the path for success.

“All her stuff was working out there. It was great,” Wallace said. “She really attacked hitters. That’s one thing we appreciate her getting ahead of hitters and keeping them on their toes. Her off-speed was good, her rise was great. She did an incredible job.”

Rodoni allowed two base runners, one on an error in the fourth and the second on a walk in the fifth, but by that time the Lady Bears were completely in control.

After squandering an opportunity in the first, Baylor broke loose with three runs in the third. The Lady Bears got hits from senior outfielder Jessie Scroggins, junior outfielder Kyla Walker and sophomore designated player Goose McGlaun drew her second walk of the game before senior first baseman Shelby Friudenberg delivered a two-run single to left field.

Wallace then added an RBI single, her first hit as a Lady Bear since transferring from Auburn.

In the fourth, Baylor tacked on five more runs on six hits. Scroggins and Walker got the rally going with consecutive hits. McGlaun then drove them both in with a two-run single to center. Friudenberg did her best to connect on her first homerun, but came up inches short as she had to settle for an RBI double, putting the Lady Bears in front 6-0 in the fourth.

Wallace then delivered her second RBI hit of the game, and sophomore outfielder Maddison Kettler drove in the final run for Baylor with a single to right.

With an 8-0 lead in the fifth, it was back to work for Rodoni to finish off the Lady Demons. After a one out walk, Rodoni dug back into her bag of tricks, striking out the final two Northwestern State hitters.

Walker picked up right where she left off after finishing last season with 89 hits, tallying three hits in three trips to the plate. Wallace and Friudenberg each had two hits, with Friudenberg driving in three runs as well.

“We’re strong 1-9, we’ve got some speed, I’m not one of them,” Wallace said. “But we’ve got plenty of speed, top and bottom and we’ve got plenty of power throughout. I think we’re a really well balanced lineup and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said that it was important for his team to come out and set the tone for the season.

“It was a good start. I told the team before the game that we will start defining 2018 Baylor softball and I think they wrote a pretty good definition tonight,” Moore said.

No. 10 Baylor (1-0) will take on Northwestern State (0-1) in a doubleheader tomorrow with the first game beginning at 2 p.m. and the second one slated to start at 4:30 p.m.