Lafayette, La. Regional Preview – Baylor Bears
The Baylor Bears, members of the Big XII, are one of four teams that will be vying for the championship in the Lafayette, La. NCAA Softball Regional at Lamson Park this weekend.
Baylor, who will come into the regional with an RPI ranking of 22, has an overall record of 38-15 on the season.
The Bears tied for second in the seven-team Big XII this season, with a 12-6 record, which equaled Texas, and was three games behind first-place Oklahoma (14-2).
Making a second regional appearance in Lafayette in the last five years, Baylor is hitting a .319 as a team, along with 42 home runs, 235 runs batted in, and 84 stolen bases in 104 attempts.
Offensively, the Bears rely on contact and speed. And while Baylor seldom beats the opposition with the long ball, they also don't strike out a lot, and don't give up the long ball themselves.
As evidence, Baylor has only homered 42 times this season. By contrast, that's 64 less than Louisiana, and fifth in the Big XII, yet have only allowed 28 homers to opponents.
The Bears like to run, swiping 84 bags, which ranks second amongst regional participants to only Mississippi St., with sophomore outfielder Lindsey Cargill leading the way, stealing 27 bags in 28 attempts.
Sophomore second baseman Ari Hawkins is a solid three-hole hitter, leading Baylor in hitting with a .317 batting average, with Cargill (.344), senior outfielder Thumann (.344), and junior catcher Robin Landrith (.340) all putting together solid seasons.
The negative is that all of those hitters provide little power, with one combined one home among the four.
The power for the Bears comes from freshman first baseman Shelby Friudenberg, who leads the squad with 16 homers and 41 RBI’s, and junior outfielder Linzey Hays, who is second on the team in homers, with eight.
Pitching-wise, Baylor brings in an overall combined earned run average of 2.49 into the regional, which ranks second in the tournament field.
Junior right-hander Heather Stearns is the ace, sporting a 19-11 record, with a 2.46 ERA, while accumulating 182.1 innings inside of the circle.
Freshman right-hander Sarah-Beth Toben is ranks second on the team in wins, sporting a perfect 8-0 record, along with an impressive 1.88 ERA., while tossing only 41 innings.
Look for Stearns to pitch the bulk of the innings this weekend, with maybe a few innings of relief from freshman left-hander Kendall Potts, who compiled a 7-3 record, along with a 2.80 ERA. in 85 innings of work in 2015.
Baylor finished third in the Big XII in hitting (.319), second in pitching (2.48), and third in fielding (.969) in 2015.
The Bears, who will be making their 10th regional appearance, are 6-12 all-time, against Louisiana, including a 2-0 record in the postseason.
The Cajuns swept a doubleheader from Baylor back on April 11 at Lamson Park, winning by scores of 3-1 and 2-2, to increase their winning streak over the Bears to five games.
Louisiana is 0-2 against Baylor in the postseason, losing twice to the Bears, by scores of 2-1 and 6-1 in the 2009 Waco, Texas Regional.
Baylor came to Lafayette for a regional in 2012, but did not play Louisiana, as the Cajuns faced Mississippi Valley St. once, and Stanford twice.
The Bears are an outstanding team, who played in the Women's College World Series only a year ago. They’ve played a great schedule, with impressive wins over some of the best teams in the country like Oregon, Arizona, and Oklahoma, all of who are tops seeds in their respective regions.
Baylor doesn't have the big power hitters , but they're more than capable of winning this regional the old fashioned way, with pitching, speed, and defense.
Louisiana is the favorite to win the regional, and should be, but Baylor is without a doubt their biggest threat this weekend.
The winner of the Baylor/Mississippi St. game will face the Louisiana/Weber St. winner on Saturday at 3:30 pm, while the two losers will meet in an elimination game on Saturday at 6 o’clock.
View the season statistics for Baylor here.
Get more information on the Lafayette, La. Regional here.
View the complete NCAA softball bracket here.