No. 17/16 Baylor softball (36-15, 12-6 Big 12) split the opening day of pool play, downing Oklahoma State (37-20, 12-6 Big 12) in a 7-1 decision to start the day before being tripped up in a 6-5 contest with Texas Tech (28-24, 5-13 Big 12) on Friday afternoon at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
With a three-way tie among the teams in Pool B, Baylor topped the standings on the first tie breaker – runs allowed – thanks to OSU’s 7-6 win over Texas Tech to close the evening, with BU advancing over the Cowgirls based on the head-to-head result.
The title game berth is the first-ever for the Lady Bears, with the tournament running from 1996-2010 before being discontinued, now in its second season since being reinstated in 2017.
Gia Rodoni (22-10) took both decisions for the Lady Bears, picking up the win in a start in game one and taking the loss in game two in a relief appearance.
In game one, Rodoni worked all 7.0 innings, allowing six hits and a single run, striking out nine and walking one.
In game two, Regan Green made the start, but exited after 3.0 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, striking out three and walking two. Rodoni entered the game, closing the final 4.0 frames and allowing seven hits with two runs, striking out four.
In the OSU game, the Lady Bears grabbed an early lead, swinging a hot bat from the drop.
Jessie Scroggins and Kyla Walker went back-to-back with singles, moving into scoring position on a groundout by Shelby Friudenberg.
Goose McGlaun reached safely on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases for Carlee Wallace.
A defensive error by OSU’s Vanessa Shippy at third allowed Scroggins to score, keeping the bases loaded.
Maddison Kettler cracked the game open for BU, lacing a single to left that scored both McGlaun and Wallace, giving the Lady Bears a 3-0 lead after one.
OSU’s lone run came on a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the second, but Rodoni stayed locked in to keep the Cowgirls scoreless through the remainder of the contest.
BU created some separation in the sixth, with Nicky Dawson dropping a single into left field. With two outs, Hannah Thompson drilled a two-run shot down the left field line over the wall, pushing BU’s lead to 5-1 after six.
Looking to add on in the seventh, Scroggins beat out an infield single to lead off the frame, with Friudenberg stepping to the plate with one out.
A two-run shot cleared well over the wall in left-center, pushing BU’s advantage well out of reach, closing out a 7-1 win in game one.
In the afternoon’s game with Texas Tech, the Lady Bears flipped to the auxiliary Integris Field at the USA Softball Complex, battling wind gusts exceeding 30 mph throughout the game.
BU took another early lead, with Dawson drawing a one-out walk. After successfully stealing second, the throw down to second ended up being kicked out past the TTU centerfielder, allowing Dawson to race around and score.
Kettler kept the rally going, singling up the middle and stealing second. Thompson kept the hot bat, singling into right center to score Kettler from second and pushing BU in front, 2-0, after two.
Texas Tech would respond in the top of the third, picking up three runs to take the 3-2 lead, but BU responded in the home half of the frame.
Walker singled to right, setting up for a double by Shelby Friudenberg to put both in scoring position.
Wallace drove in Walker on a suicide squeeze bunt, with Walker beating the throw home to tie the game back at 3-3.
Texas Tech regained the advantage, posting a run in the fourth, taking a 4-3 lead into the fifth.
BU chipped back in the home half of the fifth frame, sparked by a leadoff single for Walker. With two outs, Walker stole second, proving crucial on the following play when Wallace drilled a sharp grounder at the Tech second baseman. She booted the ball into right field, allowing Walker to score from second, tying the game back at 4-4.
Dawson came up clutch for the Lady Bears, lining a triple to the wall in right center, allowing Wallace to score to give BU the 5-4 lead after five.
The Red Raiders rallied back in the seventh, scoring two runs to sneak out with a 6-5 win.