By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Glenn Moore saw it coming, and still liked it, even if it's not what he ultimately wanted.
After losing to Oklahoma in Saturday's Big 12 Championship final, a game that quite possibly cost Baylor softball (36-16) a host site, the Lady Bears were sent to the College Station Regional hosted by 15th-seeded Texas A&M (40-16) and will face McNeese State (40-19) at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
"If you can't host, you're playing at a venue that is close enough for our fans to get to," said Moore, whose team is making its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 13th overall.
"I'm excited to be there. I'm not really surprised; this was the way I thought it was going to work out. It's certainly a good regional and a tough regional. We're going to have to play ball to come out of it. But, we're capable of coming out of it, and we're playing our best ball of the year right now, I believe."
This is Baylor's second postseason trip to College Station in the last six seasons. Five years ago, the Lady Bears forced a decisive final game before getting shut out by the Aggies, 8-0.
Junior pitcher Gia Rodoni said she was disappointed about not getting to host for a second straight year, "but we got sent to a good place, and a place we know we can compete with, so we're not too mad about that."
"We're really glad to be going to A&M," she said. "It's just a short drive down the road, and hopefully it will encourage our fan base to go down there with us."
After a mid-year lull that saw the Lady Bears get swept in series against Oklahoma State and fourth-seeded Oklahoma, they won 10 of 11 games going into the Big 12 tournament. Baylor knocked off the Cowgirls, 7-1, in the first round of pool play before falling to Texas Tech (6-5) and then fell to the Sooners in the program's first-ever Big 12 Championship final.
"We would have wanted to get to this point earlier, maybe change the outcome, but we didn't," Moore said. "We didn't pull it together early enough to get the wins to be able to host, but we pulled it together in the end. We were in the conversation, and I've said that many times that I felt like we had an outside shot at hosting. If you're not going to host, I feel pretty with what the committee decided."
Friday's first-round games at Davis Diamond have Baylor facing McNeese State at 3:30 p.m., followed by the host Aggies versus Prairie View A&M (20-21) at 6.
This is the Lady Bears' fourth game against McNeese State this season. They defeated the Cowgirls, 7-1, on Feb. 16 in Hattiesburg, Miss., then split a pair of mid-week games on April 10-11, winning the first game by run-rule, 10-2, before losing the second game, 7-3.
"We know each other well, so there shouldn't be any surprises," Moore said. "I don't know that it's a comfort level, because I know they're very capable, a very good team. It's just going to eliminate some of the work and preparation in getting to know the opponent a little bit in typical years."
Since both teams know each other so well, senior centerfielder Jessie Scroggins said "it's just going to come down to who executes the best."
Scroggins (.449) and junior outfielder Kyla Walker (.457) will continue their quest to break Lindsey Cargill's year-old school-record batting average (.430) while also battling with Oklahoma State's Vanessa Shippy (.460) for the Big 12 batting title.
Moore said it took Baylor a little longer to play together and get on the same page, "but they did and they're a solid team right now, very confident in their ability to compete at the highest level. And that's what I would want."
WACO, Texas - The Baylor softball team (36-16) secured its eighth-straight NCAA Tournament bid, heading to the College Station Regional, hosted by the No. 15 seed, Texas A&M (40-16).
The Lady Bears open the bracket playing a familiar foe, paired with McNeese (40-19) in the opening game of the weekend on Friday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m. CT at Davis Diamond. The Lady Bears have won two of three games over the Cowgirls in the 2018 season.
The Aggies and Prairie View A&M (20-21) close out the first day of play, set for a 6 p.m. CT start.
ESPN 3 and the Watch ESPN app will carry every game throughout the tournament, with select games to be aired on ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN U.
Baylor's all-time record in the NCAA postseason is 45-28 and all 73 games have been under head coach Glenn Moore.
This marks the 13th appearance for Baylor overall in the NCAA Tournament and eighth-consecutive selection. The Lady Bears have advanced to at least a Super Regional round six times and are 31-11 all-time in the first round.
Texas A&M is one of nine SEC teams to secure a hosting bid, with four of those in Baylor's quarter of the bracket (No. 2 Florida, No. 7 Georgia, No. 10 Tennessee). The Aggies have lost their four games in a row after sweeping Auburn, closing the regular season being swept by Alabama and losing in the first round of the SEC Tournament to Mississippi State.
Baylor has faced Texas A&M in postseason play in College Station once before, failing to advance out of the Aggies' regional in 2013.
McNeese earned the Southland's automatic bid with a 4-2 win over Nicholls on Friday to win its third-straight Southland Conference Tournament title and third-straight NCAA Regional Appearance. BU beat the Cowgirls, 7-1, in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Feb. 16 earlier this season, going on to split a midweek two-game set in Waco on April 10-11.
Prairie View A&M won six-straight elimination games in the SWAC Softball Championship, including three on Saturday, to win the program's first championship since 1998.
Oklahoma claimed the No. 3 overall bid, with Oklahoma State heading to the Fayetteville Regional paired with No. 13 Arkansas, and Texas landing a spot in the Seattle Regional, taking on No. 5 Washington.
Baylor Softball NCAA Postseason Notes
LAST NCAA TOURNAMENT:
2017, Waco Regional, Tucson Super Regional (Arizona), Women's College World Series (Oklahoma City)
LAST NCAA SUPER-REGIONAL:
2017 - Baylor advanced from the Waco Regional to the Tucson Super Regional, coming back from a 1-0 deficit to the No. 2 seed, Arizona, to win back-to-back wins in dramatic fashion.
LAST NCAA WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES:
2017 - Baylor went 0-2 in the WCWS, falling to the eventual two-time champs, Oklahoma, and closing the season with a loss to Oregon for the second-straight season.
Baylor's all-time Postseason Record (NCAA):
Baylor's all-time First-Round Record:
All-Time Baylor Postseason Appearances:
2004 - Waco Regional
2005 - Auburn Regional, Waco Super Regional
2006 - Corvallis Regional (Oregon St.)
2007 - Hempstead Regional (Albany), Waco Super Regional, WCWS
2009 - Waco Regional, Ann Arbor Super Regional (Michigan)
2011 - College Park Regional (Maryland), Athens Super Regional (Georgia), WCWS
2012 - Lafayette Regional (Louisiana-Lafayette)
2013 - College Station Regional (Texas A&M)
2014 - Waco Regional, Athens Super Regional (Georgia), WCWS
2015 - Lafayette Regional (ULL)
2016 - Eugene Regional (Oregon)
2017 - Waco Regional, Tucson Super Regional (Arizona), WCWS
Pre-Glenn Moore Postseason Appearances:
1979 - SWAIAW Regional Tournament, 0-2 (Head Coach: Olga Fallon)
1980 - AIAW Regional Tournament, 5-1; AIAW Nationals, 0-1 (Head Coach: Bob Brock)
1981 - AIAW Regional Tournament, 4-0, AIAW Nationals, 0-2
Keep up with the team all season long by following Baylor Softball on the team's official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages, @BaylorSoftball.