Baylor softball holds off Oregon, rallies over Notre Dame to open Mary Nutter Classic

Then-No. 19 Baylor softball celebrates an inning-ending out during the Bears' season-opening series against No. 2 Tennessee on Feb. 9 at Getterman Stadium in Waco. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

Whether staving off a rally or creating one of its own, No. 22 Baylor softball found a way to win.

Twice, and in back-to-back fashion.

The Bears opened the Mary Nutter Classic with two straight victories on Thursday night in Palm Springs, Calif. Baylor held off a seventh-inning comeback for a 3-2 win over No. 25 Oregon before timely at-bats fueled a 10-9 victory over Notre Dame via walk-off.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher RyLee Crandall (3-0) spun a complete-game five-hitter versus the Ducks, in which she only allowed two runs, one of them earned. Crandall hurled a season-high 111 pitches, recorded five strikeouts and walked one batter to lead the Bears (5-3) to their third ranked win of the season.

Senior outfielder McKenzie Wilson (2-for-4, one run) and junior utility Shannon Vivoda (2-for-3, one RBI) led the Bears in the box against Oregon, while senior catcher Sydney Collazos recorded a two-out, two-RBI single to right field in the fifth inning.

Collazos’ rip gave Baylor the two-run lead it needed to come away with the victory.

Senior utility Emily Hott opened the top of the second inning with a leadoff walk and was moved to second after a single by junior infielder Amber Toven. A wild pitch put them at second and third, which led to Vivoda’s RBI knock, bringing Hott home and giving the Bears an early 1-0 lead.

The Ducks (7-6) responded in the fourth inning after a leadoff single led to an unearned run. A sacrifice bunt advanced the leadoff runner to second, and an error by junior infielder Presleigh Pilon allowed that runner to score.

Collazos’ two-RBI liner in the fifth inning pushed Baylor ahead 3-1, and a seventh-inning Oregon rally came up short as Crandall stranded the tying run at third base.

Senior right-handed pitcher Dariana Orme got her first start of the season in the second game against the Fighting Irish (6-4), the Bears’ offense gave her immediate assistance. Wilson hit a leadoff single and found her way to third base after a Notre Dame error and Govan fly out.

Hott dug in and drilled an RBI single through the right side to bring Wilson home, giving Baylor a 1-0 lead after one.

Things stayed scoreless until the top of the third when the Fighting Irish plated three runs on three hits, leaving two on base by the end of the side. The Bears responded in the bottom half thanks to a two-run homer to left-center field by Govan, her first blast of the season and the team’s second on the year.

Senior two-way pitcher Aliyah Binford took over for Orme in the circle to start the fourth inning, and she shut the side down despite giving up a two-out walk and single. Baylor turned around and tacked on one more run to break the 3-3 tie, making it a 4-3 ballgame going into the fifth.

Both teams were silenced in the fifth, and Binford clamped the Fighting Irish once again in the top of the sixth. The Bears’ offense pulled through once again, giving Binford and the pitchers insurance with four runs in the bottom side, putting Baylor ahead 8-3 with one inning left.

The Bears fell apart in the top of the seventh, though, as Notre Dame scored six runs on six hits to take a go-ahead 9-8 lead. Binford was pulled for Crandall after giving up two bases-loaded singles, but they swapped back when Crandall gave up two runs of her own.

Binford limited the damage to one more Fighting Irish run before forcing a double play to end the side and strand two more runners.

Needing one run to extend the game, junior outfielder Taylor Strain led things off with a single to right center. Freshman infielder Leah Cran followed that with a double down the left-field line, putting Strain on third and Cran at second with no outs.

Pilon stepped into the box and reached base on an error by Notre Dame’s second baseman, which allowed Strain to hit home plate and tie the game at nine runs apiece. The top of the order came around and Wilson reached on a fielder’s choice, which plated Cran and gave the Bears the walk-off victory.

Wilson (3) and Govan (3) combined for six of the team’s seven RBIs against the Fighting Irish, and Wilson finished the doubleheader 5-for-9 at the plate. Binford (2-2) earned the win in the circle despite giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits. She added five strikeouts and two walks in her 4.0 innings of work.

Orme finished her first start with two strikeouts, two walks and two hit-by-pitches. Orme gave up three earned runs across 3.0 innings, and she’s still easing her way back into pitching after having surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome over the offseason.

Baylor’s third of five games at the Mary Nutter Classic game will come against UC Riverside at 10:30 p.m. CT on Friday in Palm Springs. The game will be streamed on FloSoftball, and a radio broadcast is available on COOL 101.3 FM.

The Bears will finish the tournament with a pair of ranked meetings versus No. 19 UCLA and No. 13 Missouri on Saturday.

Michael Haag is a third year Journalism student from Floresville, a small town about 30 miles south of San Antonio. Haag is entering his third year at the Lariat and is hoping to continue developing his sports reporting skill set. After graduation, he plans to work on a Master’s degree in Journalism in order to one day teach at the college level. He does, however, plan on becoming a sports reporter for a publication after grad school.