By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Baylor softball finished the Baylor Invitational on Sunday with a 5-4 win against Illinois. The victory over the Illini pushed its record for the weekend to 5-0.
Redshirt junior righty Sydney Holman-Mansell earned the start for the Lady Bears and got through three innings of four-run pitching before being relieved. Holman-Mansell gave up six hits and four earned runs in her time on the mound while striking out four batters.
After Illinois plated their first run of the day in the top of the first, Baylor redshirt junior right fielder Madison Kettler tripled down the right field line to set up the first scoring opportunity for the Green and Gold. Freshman second baseman Emily Hott dribbled a hit out to the shortstop for a fielders’ choice to score Kettler.
Scoring was quiet in the second inning before Illinois exploded in the top of the third. With two runners on and two outs, Danielle Davis sent a ball rocketing over the center field wall to take a 4-1 lead. Holman-Mansell finished off the inning for the Lady Bears, but the damage was done and freshman righty Aliyah Pritchett took over in the fourth.
Pritchett pitched the next four innings perfect, allowing no hits or walks while striking out four. With the freshman pitching so well, the offense took its time taking back the lead. In the bottom of the third, Kettler again responded by singling in junior left fielder Alyssa Avalos to cut the lead to two runs.
In the fifth, senior first baseman Goose McGlaun singled through the left side to open the inning and after Avalos recorded her first career double, sophomore outfielder Ana Watson was sent in to pinch run for McGlaun. Redshirt senior Kyla Walker pushed a single through the left side during the next at bat to drive in Watson and move Avalos to third. Walker then stole second and Kettler reached base for the third time Sunday with a single to drive in Avalos and tie up the ballgame.
Pritchett stepped up to bat to open the bottom of the sixth and sent a ball over the wall close to the same place Davis’ homer went yard. Pritchett’s bomb gave Baylor the 5-4 lead, and they wouldn’t relinquish it the rest of the way. Pritchett said after the game putting the pressure on the other team just makes the Lady Bears play better.
“It makes the game pretty fun because, you know, now it’s up to the other team,” Pritchett said. “They’re the ones who have to come back and try to win it, and … like [Kettler] said, our vibe is just confident. We’re really good at knowing that we can make outs.”
With the win, the Lady Bears improve to 13-2 and are currently on an 11-game winning streak. Head coach Glenn Moore said postgame that even with their recent success, there is always room to improve.
“We’re facing better competition every time we go out there, and this team is continuing to raise the level of play,” Moore said. “I feel this team can be very good. We still have a long ways to go. We’ll have better competition even next week.”
Baylor will get one more game at home at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Getterman Stadium before heading off on their first road trip since the first weekend of the season. Tuesday’s matchup with Louisiana Tech will be available on ESPN+ through the ESPN app.