Softball opens practice on new turf

Senior pitcher Gia Rodoni winds up for a pitch against North Texas on March 10, 2018 at Getterman Stadium. The Lady Bears, who have made seven straight NCAA Regional finals, opened practice on Thursday. Lariat File Photo

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer

Baylor softball opened practice Thursday afternoon at Getterman Stadium.

Thursday’s practice marked the first official practice on the new turf field. Head coach Glenn Moore said the new turf just makes their home field advantage stronger.

“Originally, I wasn’t a big fan of the artificial surface, traditionalist, but I’m really impressed with what they did. It’s high-quality material,” Moore said. “I was really excited to get this turf because of the number of home games that we have here, and to be able to play in one of the top stadiums in the country. Our fans support us, so we want to be here as much as we can.”

The Lady Bears are coming off the program’s seventh-straight NCAA Regional final in 2018.

With the loss of All-Americans Jessie Scroggins and Shelby Friudenberg, senior outfielder Kyla Walker’s injury last season also proved another blow for the Lady Bears. After undergoing hip surgery and rehab last summer, Walker will require tightening surgery on her shoulder and will not be able to play in 2019, but hopes to return as a grad student the following year.

The Lady Bears welcome eight freshmen and two transfers onto their roster this year that could not only bring lots of pitching depth but some strength to the line-up as well. Abilene Christian transfer Sydney Holman and freshmen Madison Lindsey and Kassidy Krupit are a few of the notable additions. Senior pitcher Gia Rodoni said the newcomers will add much-needed depth.

“We definitely got a boost with Sydney Holman and Maddie Lindsey, even Kassidy. She can play third and she can pitch,” Rodoni said. “So we definitely have a lot more depth than we did last year. I’m excited to see how we all work out together.”

Krupit will play third base and be a possible middle reliever for the Baylor bullpen. But according to Moore, Krupit’s value lies in her offensive skills, as she is set to bat fourth in the line-up.

“She’s a Babe Ruth hitter,” Moore said. “She’s going to strike out or hit a home run most of the time, but she’ll hit a lot of home runs for us before she’s done here.”

Baylor is facing a strong schedule both in conference and non-conference play this season. The team was ranked third in the Big 12 Coaches’ Poll after Oklahoma and Texas, both of whom received transfers in the offseason. The Lady Bears will also host strong Louisiana teams in Louisiana-Lafayette and LSU.

The schedule boasts a slew of home games which will be played on a new artificial surface. Rodoni expressed her excitement at getting back to work in her last season with Baylor. She said her goal for the team is to once again reach the College World Series, and she also hopes to strengthen the pitches already in her arsenal.

“My last season ultimately is just to get our team back to the World Series,” Rodoni said. “I have personal goals, but for a team goal we obviously want to win as much as we can when we’re at home, even on the road, so we can make it back to the World Series like we did two years ago.”

The Lady Bears will begin their season competing in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, Feb. 7-10 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, facing South Carolina in the opener. They will return to host the Getterman Classic on Feb. 15 after a quick trip to San Antonio for a mid-week game against UTSA.