By Max Calderone | Sports Writer
The No. 11 Baylor Lady Bears returned home to Getterman Stadium for the first time in over a month Wednesday night, but the unranked Texas State Bobcats wanted no part of a happy homecoming, defeating the Lady Bears 5-2.
The loss snapped Baylor’s seven-game winning streak and moved the Lady Bears’ record to 17-4 on the season. Texas State improved to 19-7 behind clutch late-inning hits off Baylor junior pitcher Gia Rodoni.
Head coach Glenn Moore said he credits the Bobcats for hanging around and giving Baylor everything they had.
“I have to tip my hat to what Texas State did. I’m not sure I’ve seen a team that was dominated the way they were by a pitcher for the first few innings continue to fight, chip away, and then all of a sudden get to us the way they were able to,” Moore said.
Baylor jumped all over Texas State’s All-American senior pitcher Randi Rupp to begin the ballgame, racking up five consecutive hits to start the night.
Sophomore second baseman Nicky Dawson and senior center fielder Jessie Scroggins led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back infield singles as part of the opening rally. Sophomore first baseman Goose McGlaun brought home the game’s first run, driving in Dawson on a base knock up the middle.
Senior catcher Carlee Wallace followed suit with a run-scoring bloop single to center field that put Baylor ahead 2-0, but the Lady Bears were unable to add any more, stranding the bases loaded as Rupp and the Bobcats tightroped out of danger.
Rodoni was very sharp early on, striking out five of the first six Bobcats batters. She didn’t allow a baserunner until the top of the third inning, as senior designated player Jaelyn Young reached via a walk. Nothing came of the Texas State baserunner as Rodoni settled back in and collected two more punchouts.
The Lady Bears showcased their defensive prowess in the top of the fourth, as senior outfielder Jaclyn Molenaar collected Texas State’s first hit to start the inning, but was quickly erased after Scroggins back-picked the baserunner at first base with a throw from center field. Rodoni then made easy work of a sharp comebacker and sophomore left fielder Madi O’Neal ranged deep into foul ground to snag a pop-up that ended the inning.
“It’s something I’ve been working on since last year,” Scroggins said about the back-pick. “I just kept practicing it and finally got the hang of it. It’s like a weekly thing.”
The momentum suddenly shifted in the top of the fifth as the two teams seemingly switched roles. Texas State sophomore catcher Haleigh Davis tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run shot over the left field wall, silencing the Baylor crowd.
The Bobcats took the lead in the top of the sixth as sophomore first baseman Hailey MacKay delivered an RBI single and freshman pinch-runner Meagan King came around to score on senior shortstop Ariel Ortiz’s triple off the center field wall. Freshman second baseman Tara Oltmann kept the line moving with a rip to center field to score Ortiz and chase Rodoni from the ballgame.
Rupp settled into a groove inside the circle for Texas State and continued to mow down Lady Bears hitters, allowing just two hits past the third inning and keeping the lead in her team’s favor at 5-2 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Moore said he was impressed with the way Rupp pitched throughout the game and that his team had plenty of opportunities to score more than twice.
“I’ve seen [Rupp] for four years, she’s dominant. If you can score a run or two off of her, you need to find a way to beat her,” Moore said. “I can’t really complain about our offense. We got what we needed early, but we weren’t able to maintain that.”
The Lady Bears got two runners in scoring position to make things interesting, but Scroggins grounded out to first base to end the ballgame. Though she collected two hits on the night, Scroggins said facing Rupp was a challenge.
“She was very tough, she was mixing her pitches very well and she kept us off balance,” Scroggins said.
Baylor will return to the softball diamond next week as they take on North Texas at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Getterman Stadium.