By Max Calderone | Sports Writer
No. 16 Baylor softball (25-9) pulled away late from McNeese State (27-14), taking a 10-2 run-rule victory Tuesday night at Getterman Stadium.
The Lady Bears were led offensively by junior left fielder Kyla Walker, who tallied three hits and scored as many runs, and senior center fielder Jessie Scroggins who inched closer to Baylor’s all-time career hits record, adding two in the ballgame.
Junior pitcher Regan Green made her 12th start in the circle for the Lady Bears, throwing all six innings and allowing two runs, just one of which was earned, and striking out seven batters.
Green said she was happy with her performance, but said there’s always room for improvement.
“As a pitcher I don’t want to give up any runs,” Green said. “There’s definitely things each game that I can take and work on and try to get better every single game that I throw. So I’m never satisfied, there’s always little things to work on from games like that.”
The game got off to a dazzling start when Baylor’s senior catcher Carlee Wallace made a diving catch from behind the plate to retire the Cowgirls’ leadoff batter, junior right fielder Justyce McClain. Senior third baseman Erika Piancastelli laced a single for McNeese State’s first hit, but was quickly erased on the bases when Wallace caught her stealing to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first, Wallace continued to announce her presence as she walked with the bases loaded to put the Lady Bears ahead 1-0. However, Baylor couldn’t cash in with any more runs, leaving runners on the corners to end the inning.
Both teams went down one-two-three in the second, but the Lady Bears struck for one more in the bottom of the third, as Walker singled with one out and came around on an RBI knock from Wallace to put Baylor ahead 2-0.
The Cowgirls answered in the top of the fourth as McClain began the inning with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Green. She was chased in on a bloop single to left field by sophomore center fielder Brenique Wright to pull McNeese State within a run.
Baylor’s sophomore designated player Goose McGlaun started the bottom half with a single right back up the middle and freshman pinch runner Alyssa Avalos moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore shortstop Taylor Ellis, but that was all for the Lady Bears as back-to-back fly outs ended the inning.
Green danced out of danger in the top of the fifth, as McNeese State’s junior first baseman Taylor Edwards doubled off the wall to start things off. Junior catcher Aubree Turbeville reached on a bunt single to give the Cowgirls runners on the corners, but Green came back to throw out Edwards trying to score on a ground ball back to Green before striking out sophomore pinch hitter Alexandria Saldivar and forcing McClain to fly out to right field.
Baylor extended its lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, as Walker reached with her third hit and scored for the second time thanks to a double to deep center by Scroggins.
McNeese State countered once again in the top of the sixth as Piancastelli showed off her power, going deep for the 14th time this season to make it 3-2. Senior designated player Morgan Catron made a bid for one more with a drive to right field, but Lady Bears’ sophomore right fielder Maddison Kettler tracked it down on the warning track while running into the padded wall at Getterman Stadium.
Baylor carried that momentum into the bottom of the sixth, as McGlaun started the rally with a triple off the top of the center field wall. Two more walks in the inning gave the Lady Bears bases loaded for sophomore second baseman Nicky Dawson, who singled home McGlaun.
That’s when the wheels came off for McNeese State, as Baylor added four more thanks to a passed ball, two straight walks, and a wild pitch. The Lady Bears even batted around and McGlaun picked up her second hit of the inning, an infield single which scored another run, pushing the total to 9-2.
Ellis followed up with a single through the left side to cap off the victory, scoring sophomore pinch-runner Madi O’Neal.
Head coach Glenn Moore said he’d take the victory, but thought his team could’ve played sharper.
“I guess coaches are never happy. I thought we had an opportunity to really blow this thing open in the first inning with good hitters in the box. We didn’t get it done,” Moore said. “The good thing is Regan [Green] held on and threw a really good game and gave us a chance to have a couple of big innings and we finally got to them a little bit in the end.”
Baylor and McNeese State will meet again tomorrow at Getterman Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.