COLLEGE STATION, Texas- No. 18 Baylor (42-17) staved off elimination with a 9-5 win over No. 13 Texas A&M (42-16) in game one, but fell 8-0 (5) in game two to end its comeback bid on Sunday in the College Station Regional final at Aggie Softball Complex.
The 40-win season was the seventh under head coach Glenn Moore.
“I’m really proud of my team, they fought hard,” Moore said. “I think the key to winning this was staying in the winner’s bracket. The game yesterday was really important to win. It’s tough to fight back, but I’m glad that we did fight back.”
Baylor used a three-hit, two-RBI day from Shelton along with a steallar shutdown relief performance from Heather Stearns to stave off elimination in game one with a 9-5 comeback win over Texas A&M. The win over the Aggies was the first in College Station since the 10-inning 5-4 win on May 5, 2007.
Stearns (12-3) threw perfect releif for the win, retiring all 12 batters she saw and striking out four in 4.0 innings. Whitney Canion got the start, allowing five runs, six walks, seven hits and strikeing out one in 3.0 innings of work.
Stearns battled through a broken bone in her hand, suffered earlier in the week during practice.
“We weren’t sure if she was even going to be able to pick up a ball,” Moore said. “For her to go in and pitch the way she did is amazing to say the least.”
The Lady Bears struck first when Hays continued her torrid pace with a two-run home run over left center, her team-leading sixth of the season. Kathy Shelton led off the first with an infield-single to extend her on-base streak to 19 before Hays’ one-out blast.
The Aggies used the long ball to take the lead in the second with a three-run homer from Megan May. A bases-loaded RBI-single by Amber Garza made it 4-2 before a one-out groundout-RBI made the BU deficit three.
Baylor came clawing right back in the bottom of the fifth, plating four runs to grab the lead permanently, as Smith led off the inning with a double to center. Thumann followed with a walk, and with one out both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Hosack delivered an RBI-single to score Smith and Kettler followed with an RBI-single through the left side to bring the Lady Bears within one. With two outs and runners at second and third, Shelton laced a ball into the gap that saw Hosack and Kettler come around to score before Shelton was tagged out at second.
Up 6-5, Baylor poured it on in the bottom of the sixth, as Holl led off with a double to center and Hays followed with a bunt-single to put runners at the corners with no outs. Smith drove in Holl on a grounder that was bobbled by the third baseman, putting runners at first and second. With one out and the bases loaded, Hosack sent a two-RBI-single to left center for the 9-5 advantage.
Stearns polished off her perfect relief effort with three fly balls to end the game.
Texas A&M scored all eight runs on five home runs for an 8-0 win in game two.
Kettler and Strickland had Baylor’s lone hits in the game.
Stearns (12-5) started and lasted 1.0 innings, giving up three hits, four runs, walking one and striking out two. Canion came in and threw 3.0 innings, striking out four, allowing three hits and walking one. Courtney Repka threw to one batter, giving up one
Texas A&M jumped out to an early lead in the first. After a leadoff walk and a single down the left field line, Amber Garza hit a three-run home run over right center for the 3-0 lead.
Baylor found some hard luck in the second after getting the first two runners on when Sarah Smith and Kaitlyn Thumann got on via walk. Strickland hit a grounder towards second that hit Thumann, for the first out. Hosack followed by grounding into a double play to end the threat.
The Aggies kept the offense going with a solo homer by May over left field to make it 4-0 in the second.
May homered again in the fourth for the 5-0 lead, and a pair of homers in the fifth gave A&M the 8-0 victory.