By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
No. 18 Baylor Softball opened its 2021 campaign in Lake Charles, La., Sunday with a 7-2 loss to No. 25 Arkansas and a 3-2 victory over the host team McNeese at the Cowgirl Classic.
“It was great to compete again,” head coach Glenn Moore told Baylor Athletics. “I’m proud for the girls as they’ve been through so much to get to this point. If you subtract one bad inning (against Arkansas), we leave Lake Charles with two wins. Although we split today, the important thing is that we are better now than we would be had we stayed home.”
Second-year freshman Aliyah Binford was a star at the plate for the Lady Bears, going 4-for-6 over both games as well as picking up a win in the circle, throwing three innings of relief against the Cowgirls.
After 348 days since hitting the field, Baylor got off to a quick start when super senior Taylor Ellis crushed a two-run homer over left center, the eighth of her career. Binford led off the frame with a single and scored on Ellis’s home run.
The Lady Bears held a 2-0 lead until Arkansas put up six runs in the bottom of the second to take a lead for good and added another run in the sixth inning to seal the win. Sixth-year senior pitcher Gia Rodoni took the loss, and freshman Maren Judisch pitched 4.1 innings out of the pen, giving up only one run with four strikeouts and no walks.
Baylor bounced back in game two, getting off to another early lead. Sophomore outfielder Ana Watson led off the second inning with a single and advanced to third on a double by sophomore outfielder Josie Bower. Freshman catcher Zadie LaValley reached on an error by McNeese’s second baseman, which allowed Watson to score.
McNeese tied it up at 1-1 in the third and the score remained the same through the sixth inning when Watson scored on yet another error. The Cowgirls once again tied it in the bottom of the inning.
The Lady Bears threatened in extra innings but didn’t score until the ninth. Second-year freshman utility player Emily Hott reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a double by Watson.
Third-year junior Sidney Holman-Mansell pitched the first five innings against McNeese, giving up only one run off four hits with six strikeouts.
Baylor will be back in action in its home opener at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Getterman Stadium. The Lady Bears will face UT Arlington in the rescheduled contest which was originally set for last Wednesday but was postponed due to inclement weather.