By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Baylor softball finished day one of the Baylor Invitational with a 1-0 win over Tulsa and a 5-1 victory over Illinois, extending the current win streak to eight games. Redshirt senior righty Gia Rodoni also pitched her first no-hitter of the season in the win against the Hurricanes.
Rodoni got the start for the Lady Bears and finished her seven-inning workout with nine strikeouts and two walks allowed. The graduate was working with a perfect game until she gave up a walk in the fifth. Rodoni said after the game that she didn’t feel like she missed a year during that performance.
“Everything felt great,” Rodoni said. “My body felt good, and it was just a great overall team effort. I’d like to see my speeds increase a little bit, but I’m content with where they’re at so far and how far they’ve come.”
The Lady Bears registered six hits across the afternoon but failed to score a run until the bottom of the sixth. Redshirt junior left fielder Maddison Kettler bunted her way to first base, and sophomore right fielder Josie Bower sac bunted Kettler to second. Senior catcher Taylor Ellis singled in Kettler on a close throw home for her first RBI of the weekend.
Rodoni came back out for the top of the seventh to finish off Tulsa, earning the fifth no-hitter of her career and her first since the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Sidney Holman-Mansell started for Baylor in game two of the evening and pitched seven innings with nine strikeouts, six baserunners and one earned run. The Lady Bears pitching staff finished day one of the Baylor Invitational with only three hits, one earned run and 18 strikeouts over 14 innings. Head coach Glenn Moore said after the game it’s a relief to have two dominant starting arms taking the circle.
“We only had really one pitcher last year, so it’s been a while since we’ve had two performances that efficient,” Moore said. “Obviously a no-hitter is efficient, but Sid was very efficient for her tonight … Certainly felt like that was one of her better performances against a great team in a Baylor uniform.”
Baylor got close to starting their scoring in the fourth inning of game two with a triple by redshirt senior center fielder Kyla Walker, but the next three batters got out without putting a ball in play. Walker’s triple was the ninth in her career, tying her for the program record in career triples.
The Illini scored their first run of the evening in the top of the sixth, forcing Baylor into their first deficit of the day. The Lady Bears responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to three errors and a Bower bomb into left field. Holman-Mansell came back in the seventh to finish off Illinois and keep Baylor’s record at home perfect.
The Lady Bears will head back out on the diamond at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for a game against Texas State followed by a matchup with No. 17 Minnesota at 4:45 p.m. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+ through the ESPN app.