MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Baylor and GPS continued their softball rivalry here at the Starplex Field No. 3 Wednesday night, but this latest game wasn’t as close as some in the past.
These two teams split their regular season games, but the three-time defending Division II-AA Lady Red Raiders won round three here in the winners bracket final.
The score wasn’t as close as most with Baylor rolling to an 8-1 victory.
With the win, Baylor improves to 33-3 while GPS is now 31-3.
Senior shortstop Cheyenne Lindsey, who is wrapping up a brilliant prep career this week before heading to Florida to play in the SEC, got the ball rolling for Baylor with a single to lead off the game.
After easily stealing second, she scored on a single by Emily Rye and the Lady Red Raider were never really challenged.
Baylor then blew the game open a bit with a four-run third before GPS scored its only run of the game in the bottom of that same inning.
Freshman Ashlynn Sellers had complete control as she improved to 16-2 with the three-hitter. She also walked three and struck out three.
She stranded four Bruisers in the first three innings and left two on in the seventh, but she was all but perfect in between as she retired the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
She was also a contributor at the plate with a solo homer in the third and a run-scoring single in the fifth.
“Games with GPS are always close and really intense, so I knew we just had to come out and play our game,” the 15-year-old said after the game ended.
“I feel like I pitched pretty well as I knew I had to hit my spots out of the zone. I was able to do that, but we’re in a pretty good spot right now. As far as my hitting, I just wanted to make solid contact. I got a ball a little bit outside, but I could feel it as soon as I made contact that it was going out,” she smiled.
Baylor coach Kelli Smith was a tad bit concerned when her team advanced with a 3-0 win over Brentwood Academy and a game she described as “we just went through the motions.”
She was feeling much better after the second win of the day over their biggest rival.
“That was just a great team effort as we were able to take advantage of our strengths, which have been power, speed and pitching,” she began.
“Ace pitched another phenomenal game. She settled in and really pitched well in the second half of the game. We got some big hits into the gaps and we were able to score twice from first on some of those. But we got some timely hits and I felt like we played pretty well overall,” she added.
GPS coach Susan Crownover certainly wasn’t very happy with the performance of her team.
“We played really poorly in this game as we just didn’t show up ready to play. The Sellers kid pitched a great game. We just have to play better than this if we expect to win big games like this, but it’s on me. I’ll take the blame for this one,” she said afterward.
While Sellers was the winning pitcher, Shelby Walters was the loser for GPS. She allowed four runs on six hits and was replaced by Hannah Sanders with two outs in the third.
She didn’t fare much better as Baylor scored four runs on five hits against her.
Catcher Haley Smith had two of the three hits for the Bruisers and both were doubles, including the second one in the third that drove in Elizabeth Warwick with her team’s only run.
Brynley Oliver reached on an infield single with two outs in the seventh and Maddie Grace Hubbard reached on a Baylor error, but both were stranded when Sellers got Warwick on a grounder to short to end the game.
Sophie Piskos, Lindsey, Rye and Sellers all had two hits each for Baylor with Rye and Sellers both driving in two.
GPS returns to action at 11:30 Thursday morning against Brentwood Academy with the winner of that game facing Baylor for the championship at 5:30 local time.
The Bruisers had advanced to Wednesday night’s game with a 14-4 victory over St. Benedict.
BAYLOR 104 021 0 – 8 11 2
GPS 001 000 0 – 1 3 2
Sellers and Rich; Walters, Sanders (3) and Smith.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)