It had been 10 days since Baylor's last softball game.
But they finally got to hit the field on Friday afternoon for a state quarterfinal battle with the Ensworth Lady Tigers.
It was a total mismatch from the opening pitch as the three-time D-II state champion Lady Red Raiders used it as a tune-up for next week's state tournament, which begins Tuesday afternoon in Murfreesboro.
Baylor's record is now 35-3 while Ensworth finishes a season to forget at 3-22. Those two records gave early indications that Baylor won win easily and in short order.
Such was the case as Baylor prevailed 18-0 in the first game and 15-2 in the second.
"It's a tough challenge to get the top seed in your region, but the downside is not being able to play for so long," said Baylor coach Kelli Smith.
"We haven't played since last Tuesday, but we came out and hit and played great defensively. I think they were really excited to be playing again and they also knew what was at stake.
"Now we're in the final four teams who will play for a state championship next week. We knew that we couldn't afford to overlook anyone, but we can enjoy it for a second before we turn our attention to GPS. We play them in the first game on Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 Murfreesboro time.
"But I'm very proud of the way these girls responded today," Smith concluded.
Precious Birdsong led off the Baylor first with a bunt single before stealing second. She scored easily on a triple into the right field corner by Noelle Winkles while Winkles made it 2-0 after scoring on a wild pitch.
Haley Andrus then ripped a solo homer to left for a 3-0 margin before Lauren Lewis flied to center for the first out. By the time Winkles added a sacrifice fly to center for the second out, Baylor had put seven runs on the board and the Red Raider Express was off and running.
Catcher Kamrie Rich, who is just an eighth grader, also had a big two-run single in that first inning explosion.
Cheyenne Lindsay had a two-run homer in the second while A.J. Johnson's two-run double was another big blow. Crosby Huckabay and Lewis both had run-scoring doubles as every Baylor starter had at least one hit.
Sophomore Kayla Hughes was the winning pitcher in both games as she improved to 21-3 for the season. She limited the Lady Tigers to just one hit in the first game and one in the second as she finished the day with five innings of work.
Baylor had another productive first inning in the second game as six runs scored with Lindsay getting a big two-run single.
Then in the fifth when Baylor closed the door with nine more runs, the Lady Raiders sent a dozen hitters to the plate, the biggest blows being a three-run homer by Andrus and a solo blast to follow by Lewis.
Ensworth scored its only runs of the day in the third when Reed Campbell slammed a two-run double. She was also the only Lady Tiger with two hits.
Birdsong, Andrus and Lindsay all finished the day with four hits for Baylor while Winkles, Lewis, Huckabay and Rich all added three apiece.
FIRST GAME SUMMARY
ENSWORTH 000 -- 0 1 1
BAYLOR 7(11)x -- 18 19 0
Jackson and Whitfield; Hughes and Rich.
SECOND GAME SUMMARY
BAYLOR 600 09 -- 15 11 0
ENSWORTH 002 00 -- 2 5 1
Hughes, Quinn (3) and Rich; Downey, Jackson (1) and Whitfield.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)