No. 15-seeded Baylor softball (48-15) saw its historic season come to an end, falling to the No. 3 seed and top-ranked Oregon Ducks on a rainy Saturday afternoon at USA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Gia Rodoni (18-4) started in the circle for the Lady Bears, chased after 2.2 innings of work with six hits, four runs, and three strikeouts.
Kelsee Selman kept the Ducks within striking distance for the Lady Bears, working 4.1 innings in relief and allowing five hits, three runs, two earned, and striking out three.
Oregon took the early lead in the top of the second, scoring two, two-out runs on a wild pitch and RBI double to go up 2-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, the game was halted in a nearly hour and 15 minute rain delay. Coming off of the delay, a groundout ended the frame at the plate for the Lady Bears.
The Ducks added on in the top of the third, with a two-out RBI double plating two more runs for Oregon, forcing Selman on in relief.
Oregon kept the pressure on, taking another two-out run in the fifth to push the Ducks’ lead to 5-0.
The Lady Bears found their spark in the home half of the fifth.
After Taylor Ellis led off the inning with a hit by pitch, Sydney Christensen broke up the no-hit bid with a single up the middle.
Maddison Kettler followed by reaching safely on a fielder’s choice and error on the Ducks, allowing Ellis to score and putting Christensen on third.
Lindsey Cargill posted an RBI groundout to score Christensen, followed by an RBI single by Kyla Walker that scored Kettler.
A sac bunt by Ari Hawkins proved to be crucial, pushing Walker to second with two outs.
Shelby Friudenberg muscled a single up the middle, allowing Walker to score from second to bring the Lady Bears within one, trailing 5-4.
Oregon scratched out two more runs on a bases loaded RBI double, taking a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Down to its last three outs and facing elimination, the Lady Bears looked to be mounting another historic and thrilling comeback.
Kettler led off the inning with a four-pitch walk, followed by back-to-back singles from Cargill and Walker to load the bases with no outs.
The late-game heroic spark fell short for the Lady Bears, with two strikeouts and a groundout finishing the comeback bid and the 2017 season for BU.
Lindsey Cargill finished the 2017 season with a .430 batting average, a new program record, topping teammate Kyla Walker’s record from 2016 (.415).
Walker bested her freshman hitting clip with a .418 average in her sophomore season, setting a new single-season hits record with 89.
The 2017 team also set a new program record for batting average, hitting .320 as a team to replace the 2005 and 2016 teams’ previous high mark (.319).
The Lady Bears were held winless at the WCWS for the first time in the program’s four trips to the tournament.
“Well, let me first open by saying how proud I am of the fight this team has, and anybody that followed us throughout the postseason knows this team doesn't quit. They're a gritty bunch with a lot of talent. But we dug ourselves in a hole once again, and you just can't do that this time of year and expect to keep coming out of it. It's going to bite you eventually, and we didn't play clean ball this tournament. But we had our moments, and we kept fighting. You know, I'm just -- at the beginning of the year, not many people thought we had -- I think we were voted to finish fourth in the Big 12, so this team overcame a lot, and they became a dang good team, very respected by everybody across the country, and it was because of hard work and paying the price and getting to this point. But it's great to be in the World Series. It's the first time for us not to win a game in the World Series, so that's difficult to deal with, but we're here and a lot of people aren't. Very proud of this bunch.” – Baylor head coach Glenn Moore
“Ever since Arizona throughout the Super Regionals we've tried to stay more calm and collected. I think we stayed calm today. Even though we went down, we were still in this game. We believe in each other that -- we went down in like the third, fourth inning so we still had so many at-bats that we could turn around, and even at Arizona we were down but we still had three more at-bats so we could turn it around, and we did, so I still believed that we could.” – Baylor outfielder Kyla Walker
“I can say that this program has taught me a lot for the future. It's very emotional right now because I am so proud of every single team that I've played on during my four years, and this year has been awesome just with this team, and I've learned a lot from Coach Moore and the coaching staff, and I'm just excited to see what the future has for them.” – Baylor infielder Lindsey Cargill
Baylor concludes its 2017 season with four seniors, Riley Browder, Lindsey Cargill, Ari Hawkins, and Kelsee Selman, closing out their careers as Lady Bears. BU will kick off its next season in February 2018, with eyes set on a return to OKC.