LAFAYETTE, La. – A two hour and 19 minute delay did not rain on the Baylor softball's offensive parade Friday as the Bears beat Mississippi State 8-4 to open the NCAA Tournament at Lamson Park.
The Bulldogs (35-20) scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first before Baylor (39-15) answered with RBI singles from Ari Hawkins and Shelby Friudenberg, and Hawkins along with pinch runner Kina Cummings, executed a double steal from first and third base as Hawkins swiped home to give the Bears a 3-1 lead.
Heading into the top of the second rain, followed by lightning, cause a lengthy delay. At 8:29 p.m. after a 5:34 p.m. first pitch, play resumed and the Bulldogs added a run in the top of the second to cut the Baylor lead to 3-2.
However, the Bears added another three spot in the bottom of the third when Sarah Smith hit a two-run single and Jessie Scroggins hit a run-scoring single to give Baylor a 6-2 lead. The Bulldogs' Caroline Seitz hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth inning to cut the lead to two once again.
Freshman standout Shelby Friudenberg put the nail in the coffin for the Bulldogs as the Baylor freshman countered with a deep home run to left centerfield in the bottom of the fourth, a two-run shot that would be the final runs of game.
Baylor hit 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position on the evening, and Heather Stearns picked up her 20th win in the circle for the Bears in five innings of work. Stearns struck out seven, and it was her fifth career postseason victory.
• Shelby Friudenberg finished 2-for-2 with three RBI and a two-run homer. It was Friudenberg's 17th home run of the season, her 18th multiple-hit game and 15th game this season to drive in at least two runs.
• Sarah Smith hit a two-run single and finished 1-for-3. All-time in the postseason, the hit gave Sarah Smith 12 career playoff RBI, which tied her for fourth on BU's postseason career RBI list with Holly Holl (12, 2011-14).
• Lindsey Cargill finished with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate with two runs. It was her 18th multiple-hit game of the season.
• Ari Hawkins led the Bears with three runs scored, which was a career-high for the sophomore. She also finished 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.
• Heather Stearns picked up her 20th win of the season from the circle and fifth career win in the postseason.
• Kaitlyn Thumann's double in the first inning was the 44th double of her career, which tied her for second all-time on the BU career list with Holly Holl (44, 2011-14).
STAT OF THE GAME I
.500 – Baylor hit 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left just four runners on base for the evening.
THEY SAID IT
Glenn Moore on Baylor's performance …
“Heather did a great job, we had great at bats, we were running the count deep and many times we'd end up with a hit. I thought our intensity and focus in the box was big tonight. I was really proud of the way the girls played considering the adversity of the weather.”
Moore on Baylor's offensive output …
“They've set a motto of attacking back every time we're scored on, and they've done that quite often this year. I think when they scored their second run we didn't score that inning, but then we had a three-run inning in the third. I think they did a good job of having quality at bats, fighting right back and making sure they kept the lead.”
Baylor takes on the hosts, Louisiana-Lafayette, in game three at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The winner moves on to championship day while the loser will play an elimination game at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN2 against the winner of Mississippi State and Weber State, which will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday.