By Max Calderone | Sports Writer
No. 13 Baylor (18-4) picked up another win behind junior pitcher Gia Rodoni‘s impressive complete game shutout as the Lady Bears defeated the North Texas Mean Green (12-15) 2-0 Tuesday night at Getterman Stadium.
Rodoni threw seven scoreless innings, striking out 10 Mean Green batters in her 12th start of the season. She said her changeup was as good as its been all season and a main reason behind her excellent outing.
“I’ve been throwing my changeup a lot,” Rodoni said. “We figured out that was a pitch that I throw half the time so I was like, the more I throw it, the more effective it will be for me in the outcome.”
The first hit of the ballgame didn’t come until the bottom of the third inning when junior left fielder Kyla Walker beat out an infield single for the Lady Bears. Walker was making her first start since Feb. 25 against Abilene Christian after being out with an ankle injury.
Sophomore second baseman Nicky Dawson followed up Walker’s hit with a sharp knock back up the middle, but the Lady Bears stranded their first two baserunners of the game as senior center fielder Jessie Scroggins grounded out to first base.
Rodoni retired nine of the first 10 Mean Green batters, picking up five of her 10 total strikeouts in the game before surrendering a hit to North Texas sophomore shortstop Lindsay Gregory to start the fourth.
North Texas freshman pitcher Hope Trautwein matched Rodoni early on, putting up zeros in the first five innings. Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said facing Trautwein was similar to Texas State’s Randi Rupp and that his team was constantly sharing information, trying to push a runner across for a run.
“She was effectively wild,” Moore said. “If you’ve ever faced effectively wild pitching it’s hard to dig in, hard to get a rhythm, hard to get timing. So what you do is keep passing information, you keep wearing her down, you try to knock foul balls off until she wears down enough to where you have those big innings.”
Trautwein tightroped out of danger in the bottom of the fourth as Baylor stranded runners on second and third to end the inning. Sophomore designated player Goose McGlaun and sophomore shortstop Taylor Ellis both smoked line drives to left field that each tipped off the gloves of Mean Green infielders, but sophomore right fielder Maddison Kettler grounded out to the pitcher for the third out.
Baylor once again had runners on base in the fifth as senior third baseman Caitlin Charlton laced a leadoff single to the right-center gap and promptly advanced to second base on a Walker sacrifice bunt. After a pop out by Dawson, Scroggins was intentionally walked to bring up senior first baseman Shelby Friudenberg, but she flied out to right field to leave two Lady Bears on base.
The breakthrough finally came in the bottom of the sixth inning as Baylor senior catcher Carlee Wallace walked to reach base with one away and was subsequently pinch ran for by freshman outfielder Alyssa Avalos. Then, Ellis picked up her second hit of the game with a double off the left field wall to put runners on second and third base for Kettler, who drove in Avalos with a sacrifice fly to right.
“We worked on a lot in practice this week on just executing, getting runners on base and trying not to do too much with it,” Ellis said. “Just really trying to execute and move the runner, to be able to score that run. When we were finally able to get that run in the last inning, that was huge for us and we were all excited.”
Charlton kept the line moving with an RBI single to left to put the Lady Bears ahead 2-0. Walker lined out sharply to end the inning, but the two runs were all the support Rodoni needed as she set down the Mean Green without a problem in the seventh to finish the ballgame.
Rodoni said she was assured by her teammates throughout the game that runs were coming which allowed her to relax and focus on her job pitching.
“They kept telling me, ‘We’ll get it for you, we’ll get it for you.’ And I believed them,” Rodoni said. “They’ve done it before for me so I just knew it would happen again and just didn’t panic.”
Baylor will head to Baton Rouge, La. this weekend to take part in the LSU Round Robin tournament. The Lady Bears will face North Dakota State at 11 a.m. Friday to open their four-game slate of action.