By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Baylor softball earned two more victories Saturday to bring their record to 7-2 with a 2-1 win over Western Illinois and a 4-2 win over Grand Canyon. The Lady Bears played their two closest games of the season and came out unscathed.
Redshirt senior righty Gia Rodoni pitched eight innings, gave up one run and four baserunners, and threw one strikeout short of a career-high. Her 16 strikeouts led the way for the Lady Bears in their first game, and she said after the game that her stamina is starting to work back up after injuries kept her out all of last year.
“It’s definitely having to increase as the games go on,” Rodoni said. “Eight innings is the most I’ve thrown in a very long time, so I felt pretty good like I could have gone more. It just keeps building each weekend.”
Baylor let up just one run in the second inning, but after the seventh, the score was tied 1-1. Sophomore outfielder Josie Bower’s RBI in the third kept the Lady Bears in the game, but freshman shortstop Emily Hott’s walk-off single in extras earned Baylor the top seed heading into the semifinals. Hott said postgame that Rodoni’s performance inspired the outfielder to knock in the winning run.
“We can’t let our pitcher throw  strikeouts and not back her up for that,” Hott said. “So the whole game I was seeing it well, and it was time for me to get the hit.”
Baylor’s offense struggled to plate runs throughout the day, but they put plenty of runners on the bags. The Lady Bears left 11 runners on base between the two games, but head coach Glenn Moore said he may have a different opinion than some coaches when it comes to that stat.
“A lot of people don’t leave runners on base because they don’t get runners on base,” Moore said. “If we’re getting runners on base, we’re applying pressure and eventually the dam is going to break and we’re going to score a run.”
Game two was another slow offensive game for each side. Redshirt junior righty Sidney Holman-Mansell got the start for the Lady Bears and pitched four innings, giving up two earned runs and gaining three strikeouts.
Baylor took the lead in the first inning thanks to a double from senior first baseman Goose McGlaun that drove in senior second baseman Nicky Dawson and a single by senior catcher Taylor Ellis that scored Bower. Then Holman-Mansell allowed two runs in the top of the fourth to tie up the ballgame, and the Lady Bears were forced to respond.
Freshman two-way player Aliyah Pritchett doubled in the final two runs of the afternoon in the bottom of the fourth, and both teams were held scoreless the rest of the way. Baylor’s bullpen duo of sophomore lefty Madison Lindsey and Pritchett combined for three innings with three baserunners and four strikeouts. After the game, Moore said the team handled the adversity in front of them well.
“When they tied us up and we went right back at them and scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth, I thought that’s the way you want a veteran team to respond,” Moore said. “I thought our bullpen … we put together a great combination … with [Holman-Mansell], Lindsey and finishing with Pritchett.”
The Lady Bears will play their final game of the Getterman Classic at noon Sunday, Their opponent is yet to be determined. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ through the ESPN app.