May 31, 2014
(50-19) Rank: 15/14/14
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma
(49-15) Rank: 17/17/13
OKLAHOMA City, Okla. - The most significant comeback in Baylor softball history propelled the Lady Bears to an epic 8-7, eight-inning win over Kentucky Saturday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium to help BU advance to the Women's College World Series semifinals.
Baylor (49-15) trailed 7-0 headed into the bottom of the sixth inning before scoring three runs in the sixth, four in the seventh, and Kaitlyn Thumann scored the winning run on a sacrifice bunt laid down by Ari Hawkins with two strikes in the bottom of the eight to win the game. The feat was the largest comeback in the history of the WCWS.
Kentucky (50-19) catcher Griffin Joiner fielded Hawkins' bunt, which advanced Thumann to third, but her throw went off the glove of first baseman Lauren Cumbess into rightfield and Thumann came around to score.
The Wildcats and UK starter Kelsey Nunley held Baylor mum for the first five innings and scored seven runs through the top of the sixth inning. However, Linsey Hays, Jordan Strickland and Lindsey Cargill all provided RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to four at 7-3. Thumann struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, but would get redemption later.
Heather Stearns, in relief of Whitney Canion and Liz Paul, then kept the Wildcats at bay in the top of the seventh, setting the Wildcats down in order. The Lady Bears' heroics continued in the seventh when Ari Hawkins took a 1-0 pitch of Nunley deep to left centerfield over the wall to cut the lead to three. Then, Sarah Smith doubled home Holly Holl to cut the lead to two with one out.
Jordan Strickland walked to put runners on first and second with one out, and Robin Landrith, the left-handed hitter, took a 2-2 pitch deep to opposite field for a double, which scored both Strickland and Holl to knot the score. Cargill almost ended the game, but her hard line drive was caught by KU third baseman Nikki Sagermann to end the inning.
Stearns went back to work in the top of the eighth inducing two pop ups, and she struck out Ginny Carroll to end the KU half of the inning.
Thumann, who has been Baylor's leading hitter all season, had been 0-for-9 at the plate in the WCWS before she pulled an 0-2 pitch into the right centerfield gap to start the bottom of the eighth inning. Baylor head coach Glenn Moore then signaled with two strikes for Hawkins to bunt, and the winning play transpired.
Stearns, who hadn't had a win since May 3, prior to Saturday, picked up two WCWS wins in one day in BU's wins over Florida State and Kentucky to improve to 15-4.
Baylor returns to the semifinals once again after making an appearance there the last time the Lady Bears were in Oklahoma City for the WCWS in 2011.
- Lindsey Cargill became the 14th player in Baylor postseason history to record three hits in a game, joining Linsey Hays, who accomplished it earlier in the day in BU's win over Florida State.
- Joining Cargill in the game with multiple hits was Ari Hawkins, Sarah Smith and Robin Landrith.
- Hawkins' home run was the fourth of the season for the freshman and her first in the 2014 postseason.
- Heather Stearns picked up two wins in one day at the WCWS in Baylor's victories over Florida State and Kentucky. She improved to 4-1 all-time in the postseason and 15-4 on the 2014 season.
- Landrith's two RBI was her first postseason game with multiple RBI, and it was her fourth game of 2014 with at least two RBI.
- Jordan Strickland's RBI in the sixth inning gave her 14 career postseason RBI, which moved her to second all-time on Baylor's postseason career RBI list, passing Ashley Monceaux (13, 2006-07).
- Kaitlyn Thumann's double, which snapped a 0-for-9 streak at the plate for the leadoff hitter, was the first double of her postseason career.
- Baylor is now 5-5 all-time in WCWS games and 35-20 all-time in the NCAA postseason.
STAT OF THE GAME I
2 - Number of WCWS wins in the circle Heather Stearns had for Baylor Saturday to help the Lady Bears reach the semi-finals.
STAT OF THE GAME II
6 - Baylor had six hits in the sixth inning off Kentucky starter Kelsey Nunley, and Nunley had given up just seven hits total in the WCWS prior to that point combined.
THEY SAID IT
Glenn Moore on Baylor's performance
"Wow! I won't forget that one until I forget who I am! These girls are incredible. You know, they just didn't quit believing. For five innings we weren't even in the game. That's why you play seven, I guess. I just thought we were facing a team destined to win and there was nothing we could do about it. Three outs to go and I was thinking there is not much hope, I turned to my little boy in the dugout and I said "You aren't going to cry after this are you?" And he said "Cry? We're going to win!" And, I was like "Yeah! That's the kind of faith I need right now!" Just unbelievable execution and fight from these girls. At the beginning of the game we couldn't throw it anywhere in a strike zone the size of a refrigerator that they couldn't hit. It was pretty amazing. I've never seen a team free swing the way they were at everything we let go of and we were hitting it. With every pitch, we tried everything and they were hitting it. Let me say, hats off to Kentucky. What Rachel has done there is just a phenomenal job. I think they're a lot like our program, and I just really respect the heck out of what they've done and the way they play the game. I have to give it up to the girls and let them talk about it. Amazing, amazing feat."THEY TWEETED IT
Baylor will face Florida for the second time in the WCWS Sunday at Noon on ESPN in the semi-finals round. If Baylor wins, the Lady Bears will have to beat Florida again at 6 p.m. on ESPN in order to advance to the championship, best-of-three series, June 2-4.