By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor softball (25-10, 3-3) will have very little turnaround from its 7-3 home loss to McNeese State Wednesday afternoon.
The Lady Bears once again prepare to hit the road for a three-game series with Oklahoma State (29-12, 7-2).
One emphasis will be on the team’s energy level heading into the series, as senior catcher Carlee Wallace said that was a key issue in the loss Wednesday night.
“I just think that is due to no energy throughout the dugout, no energy coming and I’ll take the fall for that as the catcher and the leader behind the plate, I didn’t have enough energy yesterday,” Wallace said. “I think the energy is what largely affected our performance last night.”
Wednesday’s effort forced Baylor head coach Glenn Moore to shift the team’s travel plans, and hold a practice Thursday afternoon prior to the team’s departure. Moore said the team needed to refocus itself and that he was pleased with what he saw from them in practice.
“We were scheduled to travel today and not practice, so we called a practice to try to get things straight. Had a team meeting before and came out of there pumped, ready to play and excited,” Moore said. “We looked like zombies out there, to me, yesterday. And I told them that. You should never show up and play that way. I would rather it happen last night than this weekend, so hopefully we got some things straightened out and we’ll carry that up to Stillwater.”
A key to that energy begins with junior ace Gia Rodoni. Rodoni (14-7, 2.36). Rodoni was not at her best Wednesday against the visiting Cowgirls, lasting just four innings while allowing five runs on seven hits and a pair of walks.
Moore said that even though Rodoni has had some up and down starts, that he is confident that she will be at her best this weekend.
“She’s had more good games than bad games. And typically when she has a game like she had last night, she responds to it and throws a great game the next game. I’m hoping that will continue,” Moore said. “When she doesn’t bring her best stuff, we need to back her up and at least give her a cushion until she’s able to find it. And she kept working, and she got better as the game went on, but not good enough and she knows that. So, she’s going to be ready to play this weekend, I feel certain.”
Rodoni as well as junior Regan Green, will need to be at their best if they are going to contain Oklahoma State’s offense.
The Cowgirls hit .327 as a team and have hit 51 home runs this season, led by junior infielder Madi Sue Montgomery’s 10. Both junior utility player Taylor Lynch and senior first baseman Jessi Haffner have hit eight. Although she only has four, senior utility player Vanessa Shippy leads the team with 52 hits, 53 runs scored and is fifth in the country in batting average at .477.
“They’re a very powerful lineup,” Rodoni said. “We just threw a bullpen, looking at some of their batters and what their tendencies are. We’re getting mentally prepared for what we’re going to face tomorrow night.”
Wallace said that she doesn’t feel like the team needs to try to counter Oklahoma State’s power with their own power, but that consistency is the focus.
“Home runs aren’t necessarily what’s going to win you a ball game. We just need to be consistent,” Wallace said. “I think that as long as we swing hard and swing often, it will take care of itself and the results will be what we want.”
A hallmark of that consistency has been senior outfielder Jessie Scroggins, who ranks third in the nation with a .491 batting average.
However, the Lady Bears will be looking for a new consistency at the hot corner, as Moore confirmed that senior third baseman Caitlin Charlton tore her MCL and is done for the season.
“Right now, I’m leaning toward going with Maddison Kettler (at third) and maybe putting Goose in right field. She’s a great outfielder as well. So, that keeps stability in your lineup and got some quickness on third,” Moore said.
Baylor and Oklahoma State will open their series tonight at 5 p.m and due to weather conditions, the two could play a doubleheader Friday. If the series continues as scheduled, game two will be at 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday in Stillwater, Okla.