The Baylor baseball team won a tough doubleheader on Wednesday against Christian Brothers as their final hurdle toward advancing to next week’s Division II-AA state baseball tournament where they will be looking for their fourth straight state title.
Less than 24 hours later, the Baylor softball team did the same thing, but the competition level wasn’t nearly as great and it didn’t take nearly as long to win the doubleheader with St. Benedict.
Baylor is now 29-3 as they advance to the StarPlex complex in Murfreesboro where they will be gunning for their seventh straight state title and 10th in the past 11 years.
Sadly for the Lady Red Raiders, the quality of teams who normally come here for the quarterfinal round is never good, but the Baylor girls were all business as they beat the Eagles twice in five innings, the first by a 12-2 final and the second by a more convincing 16-2 final.
It was more like a glorified batting practice, the only difference having players from the other team playing defense.
It had been nine days since the Baylor girls last played and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience as GPS spoiled Senior Day last Tuesday. There’s been a whole lot of practice taking place since then, so there’s no doubt that the Lady Raiders were ready to face someone other than themselves on Thursday afternoon.
Baylor has a strong lineup with a bunch of young ladies who can really hit, including several with the ability to go deep at any given time.
They had their hitting shoes on Thursday as they collected 24 hits while scoring those 28 runs and they played those 10 innings without making an error.
Baylor coach Kelli Smith knows this is just the routine they’ve gotten used to as the process and preparation never changes.
“We’re excited,” Smith said just minutes after the final out had been recorded in the second game of the day.
“We were all very much aware of what today’s games mean and our bats showed up big. Both of our pitchers were spot-on fantastic as we came out here ready to play.
“I’m sure we’ll have a spirited practice tomorrow, but we’re ready to go defend our title one more time. Winning state titles is always fun, but it’s always different as each team is different and they all have different personalities, but our preparation will be the same for the most part.
“Nothing in the past means anything right now. It’s all about what we do and how we finish this season,” Smith added.
Neely Taylor is without a doubt the best player for St. Benedict and she proved it by getting four of her team’s six hits in the two games.
She led off the first game with a home run and Zoie Bernard followed with a double before scoring on a groundout as the Eagles had a 2-0 lead before Baylor came to bat.
Southpaw Charlee Smith limited Baylor to one hit and no runs in the bottom of the first, but things changed in the second as the Lady Raiders sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored seven runs, the biggest blow being a grand slam by shortstop Morgan Sharpe.
Katie Raper also had a two-run single as Baylor took charge early.
Baylor starter Kaylee Snyder settled down and only allowed one more hit and no runs after that first inning, a double by Taylor in the third.
She pitched really well again as she finished with 11 strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
Baylor put the game away with two runs in the third and fourth innings and the game winner with nobody out in the fifth.
Snyder drove in a run in the third with a groundout while the second one scored on a wild pitch. Raper hit a two-run homer for the runs in the fourth while Sharpe scored the winning run after leading off the fifth with a single, stealing second and going to third on a throwing error and then scoring on a wild pitch.
Baylor’s offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first game and it only continued in the second.
They were the visiting team in that last game and they batted around in both the first and second innings, scoring five times in the first and six more in the second to take total command of the game.
The first five Baylor batters all got hits with Raven Jones driving in Sharpe with the first run. Cadashia Collins followed with a three-run homer before Raper hit her second homer of the day on the next pitch.
Holly Merritt had a two-run single in the second while Riley Oleksik and Avery Shamblin also had run-scoring singles. Collins drove in another run with a sacrifice fly while the last run scored on a wild pitch.
The Eagles avoided a shutout in the second game by scoring two in the third, Taylor reaching on a one-out single before scoring on a two-run homer by Bernard.
Addi Yates had a two-run double to highlight the four-run fourth while pinch hitter Kylie Henderson drove in Raper with the final run in the fifth with a single.
Sophomore Avery Shamblin, the winning pitcher in the second game, retired the Eagles in order in the fifth to end the game.
Her final line was two runs allowed on three hits. She also had 11 strikeouts and no walks.
While Sharpe and Raper were the heroes in the first game with four RBIs apiece, they both added two more hits and three more runs in the second as six Lady Red Raiders finished with two hits apiece.
The others included Yates, Jones, Merritt and Oleksik. Collins only had one hit, but she drove in four runs while Merritt and Yates also had two RBIs.
The pairings for the state tournament will be announced in the next day or so, but Baylor won’t play its first game until sometime on Wednesday.
FIRST GAME SUMMARY
ST. BENEDICT 200 00 – 2 3 3
BAYLOR 072 21 – 12 9 0
Smith, Gex (4) and Henry; Snyder and Oleksik.
SECOND GAME SUMMARY
BAYLOR 560 41 – 16 15 0
ST. BENEDICT 002 00 – 2 3 0
Shamblin and Oleksik; Smith, Gex (2) and Henry.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)