By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
Despite throwing 218 pitches across two games in two days, junior right-handed pitcher Dariana Orme said she “could have gone as long as needed,” in order to help No. 21 Baylor softball win.
With Orme in the circle the whole way through, the Bears secured a 2-1 victory in extra innings over Texas A&M University in the final game of the Ode to Joy Invitational on Sunday at Getterman Stadium.
Orme (6-1) has been No. 21 Baylor softball’s ace all year long, and she only let up one earned run on five hits while striking out six batters and walking two.
“I felt good,” Orme said. “My team just energized me so much. So, I knew that I was going to be good to go as long as they needed me.”
Sophomore infielder Amber Toven delivered the game-winning RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Bears (17-2) over the Aggies (14-6). Toven described the moment as her just “doing a job” for the squad.
“I was thinking the whole time, ‘Do a good job, keep it short and simple,’” Toven said. “And the whole time I was just doing this for Dari and the rest of the girls. I mean, we’ve been fighting hard this weekend and Dari’s been pitching her butt off, and I just have to be there to back her up.”
There was no official champion in this home tournament for Baylor, but it finished 3-1. The event consisted of the Bears, Texas A&M and Sam Houston State University, and each team played each other twice.
Baylor had its 10-game winning streak snapped by the Aggies on Saturday, as it failed to record a hit in a 3-0 loss. The Bears responded with a thrilling 9-8 walk-off win over the Bearkats that same night before opening Sunday with a 6-1 victory over the same team.
30 minutes after that match, Baylor executed its chance at revenge against the Aggies and sophomore left-handed pitcher Emily Kennedy, the same pitcher that no-hit the green and gold on Saturday.
“Yesterday wasn’t too pretty of a day,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “We made sure they didn’t get on too big of a high after the game that we came back and won. We’re proud that we didn’t give up, throw in the towel. But we kept it in perspective and it kept them focused I think for this day, which is championship day.
“We came into [Sunday] with a 1-1 record, and we could win it all if we put two games together. A&M’s a great ball club, so it’s nice for our kids to defend their home field. I know we had some challenges there and had to find a way to win it.”
After Orme retired the first three Aggie batters, the Bears’ offense pounced in the bottom of the first inning. Toven reached first base on an error and was plated by sophomore first baseman Shaylon Govan, who ripped an RBI double into right-center field to take a 1-0 lead.
The second inning was scoreless for both sides, but Texas A&M scratched one run across off an infield single to shortstop, making it 1-1 through three innings.
Things stayed knotted up through the seventh inning, taking the contest to extra innings. By rule, a runner is placed at second base to start each side, and the Aggies had a chance to put up some runs before the bottom side.
Orme had other ideas, though, as she picked up her sixth strikeout of the game following a lineout from the first Texas A&M batter. After intentionally walking the next Aggie, a groundout directly to Orme in the circle ended the threat, turning it over to the top of Baylor’s order.
The eighth was all the Bears needed, as sophomore infielder Presleigh Pilon advanced sophomore outfielder Taylor Strain to third base via a perfect bunt, which put runners on the corners with one out. Pilon then stole second and Toven connected on a single up the middle to give Baylor its second walk-off win in two days.
“[Toven’s] a competitor,” Moore said. “You usually don’t want to pitch to her in that situation [if you’re the opposition], but ‘pick your poison’ [is the] phrase [that] comes to mind because [if] you want to pitch around her, [then you have to] pitch to Shay,” Moore said. “I think you have to pitch to [Toven] and that’s going to help her in those situations because she’ll see better pitches. First base is open, but if you put her there you have to face Babe Ruth.”
When the Bears’ defense shut down the Aggie threat in the top of the eighth, Orme said she knew the offense would pull through in the bottom side.
“I knew that McKenzie [Wilson] and the rest of them were there on their way up,” Orme said. “So, I’m like, ‘We just have to get through this inning and we’re going to be smooth sailing.’”
At the plate, junior outfielder McKenzie Wilson went 2-for-4 and junior outfielder Ana Watson went 2-for-3 with two doubles.
Baylor now heads out west for the Long Beach / Cal State Fullerton Tournament, where it’ll play five games between Wednesday and Friday. The Bears’ first contest comes against California State University, Fullerton at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.