By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
Baylor softball has been perfect thus far, going 5-0 to open the season, but will face its first test when the team plays No. 12 University of Oregon for its home opening series this weekend. Head coach Glenn Moore said he likes the upcoming challenge.
“I set it up this way for a reason, so that we would hopefully get some wins under our belt and have built a little bit of confidence,” Moore said. “Grow some young players and inexperienced players and see what our pitching looked like and get an idea about our rotation because I knew it’s not going to be very forgiving this weekend … we know we need to play people better than us to get better.”
This weekend was originally supposed to be a tournament, but two teams back out and Baylor was unable to find replacements. Instead, Baylor and Oregon decided to make their matchup a three-game series. Moore said the extra matches are an advantage because they will get to see the 6-0 Ducks’ entire lineup throughout the weekend and it’ll be a great learning experience.
“This weekend has to be a classroom for us,” Moore said. “We have to grow this team and keep everything in perspective. There’s been [Baylor] teams when we would go into a weekend like this that I expect to win two of three, possibly all three of them no matter where the team was ranked. This is not one of those teams because we’re so young and there’s so many unknowns with this team. But what I do expect is [for] this team to compete and for us to learn from our mistakes and be a better team at the end regardless of what the win-loss column says.”
One of the things coach Moore wants to see from his team is their patience and ability to wear Oregon’s pitchers down throughout the contests.
“Ultimately, that’s how you beat teams that are really good,” Moore said. “You have quality at bat, understand, ‘Although I didn’t get a base hit, maybe I ran up the pitch count a little bit multiple times. So now I’m facing a pitcher that’s 70-80 pitch count in the fifth inning. Now I’m seeing a pitcher that’s worn down a little bit.’ That’s when you can beat them — if you’ve played good defense and you’ve had adequate pitching. So those are the things I’m hoping to see from this team.”
Part of the challenge for Baylor is that they’re a young team filled with underclassmen and first-year transfers, such as sophomore outfielder McKenzie Wilson who transferred from Fresno State University. Wilson said that although they’re young, they aren’t inexperienced.
“Yes, we are a young team, but I think with a young team, we do have experience,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of people on the team that have played Division I softball, and if not here, at other institutions. So yes we’re young, but we’ve been able to kind of take the younger ones and show them the way, and I think being young is not a bad thing whatsoever. You’re going to be seeing a lot of these faces for a long time, and that’s a good thing.”
Despite the youth, utility sophomore Emily Holt said they’re ready for the Ducks.
“It will be a good challenge for us for sure. I think we’re ready.” Holt said. “Coach [Moore] has had us prepared with practice and Hoot [assistant coach Steve Johnigan] with our hitting practice. We’ve got a good report on them and it’s just going to be a good test to see how our skills are going to match up against theirs.”
With it being their first home game as well their first match against a ranked team, Moore said the team could really use the fan support.
“We’re excited about being at home,” Moore said. “I think our weather is going to be pretty good. I just need to remind the fans that it’s always 10 to 15 degrees warmer in that stadium and it blocks the wind, so it’s a lot nicer. So don’t be afraid to come out, we need your support.”
Baylor will open its home series against Oregon with a doubleheader, the first match set for 2:30 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m. on Friday. The final contest will be played at noon on Saturday. All three games will be played at Getterman Stadium and air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
“If you want to see some good softball, come out to Getterman this weekend and you won’t be disappointed,” Wilson said.