The Baylor Lady Red Raider softball team may have the best hitting lineup in town as they have the ability to score a lot of runs in a hurry.
They also have pretty good pitching and better than average defense. Those last two factors came into play Tuesday afternoon at GPS where Baylor won for the 11th straight game with a 4-0 victory.
The Lady Raiders only had seven hits for the day and only one went for extra bases. That double by Noelle Winkles came with two on in the third inning and it was just a blooper behind third past a drawn-in infield.
But in a game that was a key region contest between two teams that have been bitter rivals for many years, Baylor proved they can win by doing more than hitting home runs and long smashes against the fence.
"I hate to use that old cliché that you hear so often, but that was a really good team effort for us today. Kayla and Haley were fantastic and we also played flawless defense. We just played a good, solid fundamentally sound softball game," said Baylor coach Kelli Smith after her team had improved to 14-1 and 1-0 in region play.
"This is always a big rivalry game, but it's more than that we neither of us want to travel at the end of the season. We didn't have any long balls today, but we made great decisions on the bases and that was important. And I'm pleased that we were able to use some of our players off the bench," Smith added.
Sophomore righty Kayla Hughes was another key to Baylor's win. She scattered five hits and walked one while finishing the day with four strikeouts.
There was only one inning where the Bruisers had more than one baserunner and that was the fourth where Hannah Kincer drew a one-out walk. Taylor Battle blooped a single to right one out later, but the inning ended when Stephanie George lined to Crosby Huckabay at first.
Bailey Davenport had a leadoff single in the first while Haley Smith had a one-out single in the third. Battle's single came in the fourth while Davenport had another single with two outs in the fifth. Battle had her second single to lead off the seventh, but GPS again was unable to get another hit with somebody on.
"My changeup was my best pitch today, but I knew I needed to hit my spots," said Hughes after improving to 7-1 for the season.
"I also knew that I wanted to make them have bad contact, but I have a great defense behind me and that always helps. And getting those three runs in the third was nice," Hughes nodded.
GPS senior Madi Stanley was the starting pitcher for the Bruisers. She pitched pretty well for the most part, but her downfall came in the third when she issued leadoff walks to Shelby Ellis and Cheyenne Lindsay.
Precious Birdsong dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to put Ellis and Lindsay in scoring position before Winkles drove in the first run with her bloop double. Haley Andrus lined a sharp single to left to drive in the second run while Lauren Lewis flied to right for the second out as Winkles raced home.
Three runs may have have been enough for Hughes, but the Lady Raiders added one more run in the sixth for good measure as A.J. Johnson came off the bench to single in Madison Mathis, who was pinch-running for Andrus, who had led off with her second single of the day.
GPS coach Susan Crownover certainly doesn't believe in moral victories, but she appeared happy with the way her team battled.
"We didn't hit it well enough to win, but both Madi and Shelby pitched really well today," said the veteran coach as she complimented Stanley and eighth-grader Shelby Walters, who pitched the final three innings.
"I thought we did a great job of holding them down as they have a powerful lineup with some outstanding hitters. The only problem is that we couldn't get the big hit when we needed it the most. We swung at a lot of bad pitches, but at least we kept them in the park today. The last time we played, they only had five hits, but three of them were home runs.
"We just have to learn how to score some runs in a big game like this and today, we didn't," Crownover nodded after her team dropped to 7-3 overall and 0-1 in region play.
Winkles, Andrus and Lewis all had two hits for Baylor while Davenport and Battle both had two hits for GPS.
While Hughes was the winning pitcher, Stanley took the loss after allowing three runs on three hits in four innings. She finished with seven strikeouts and two walks. Walters allowed the one run on four hits in three innings while walking none.
The Bruisers return to action on Wednesday afternoon with a home game against East Hamilton while Baylor will host CSAS on Thursday before hosting the Hits For Hope tournament on Friday and Saturday at Warner Park.
BAYLOR 003 001 0 -- 4 7 0
GPS 000 000 0 -- 0 5 1
Hughes and Andrus; Stanley, Walters and Hobbs.
(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)