By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
Baylor softball’s six-game winning streak came to an end against No. 9 Arizona State on Thursday, as the Lady Bears suffered a 7-4 defeat in a close contest.
Baylor was unable to get much going on the offensive against Arizona State’s ace Allison Royalty, while the Sun Devils used a massive fourth inning to take the lead and ultimately win the game.
“Arizona State is a very good team,” Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said. “You can’t make mistakes with them. I was proud of our start and our fight.”
The Bears started hot, as senior center fielder Nicky Dawson led the game off with a triple to left field and scored off of a wild pitch two batters later. Arizona State would respond in the bottom half of the inning as catcher Maddi Hackbarth hit her first of two home runs on the day and her 11th on the season.
The two teams were held scoreless in the second, but Baylor was able to score a run in the top of the third. Dawson hit a double after freshman second baseman Emily Hott was hit by a pitch, advancing Hott to third. Two at-bats later, senior first baseman Goose McGlaun hit a sac-fly to score Hott, putting Baylor up 2-1.
Disaster struck for the Bears in the fourth inning, as Arizona State scored six runs off of senior starting pitcher Gia Rodoni and junior reliever Sidney Holman-Mansell. An error by freshman shortstop Aliyah Binford allowed one to score and Arizona State loaded the bases after a single from the Sun Devil’s center fielder Kindra Hackbarth.
After a single to right-center field scored two, Hackbarth hit her second home run of the day to put Arizona State firmly in the lead, 7-2. Hackbarth has been nearly unstoppable this season, posting an otherworldly .491 batting average and hitting 12 home runs in just 17 games.
Baylor was unable to muster a comeback in the fifth or sixth innings. One of the few bright spots from the game came late in the seventh inning when freshman catcher Zaddie LaValley hit a two-run home run to put Baylor down only 7-4.
“We never stopped competing,” Moore said. “I saw a team grow a lot from this game. It’s only a loss if that doesn’t happen.”
With the loss, Baylor’s star pitcher Rodoni will move to 3-3 on the year and Baylor will fall to 10-4.
The Bears will remain in Arizona for the Lopes Up Classic where they will play a doubleheader against Northern Illinois and Grand Canyon today. The first game will be played at noon against the Huskies, while the second game is scheduled to be played at 2:30 against the Lopes.