To say that Baylor catcher Sydney Christensen was having a tough night in Tucson in Game two of the Super Regional against the Arizona Wildcats would be an understatement. She had an error on a pickoff attempt in the fifth inning that put two runners in scoring position with two outs that eventually came around to score and tie the game.
Then in the sixth inning Christensen allowed a passed ball that put another runner in scoring position that eventually scored. So when she finally stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning, Christensen was staring at the Arizona lefty Danielle O’Toole in the circle and a one run deficit.
Christensen was previously 0-for-22 this season against left handed pitchers, and Tooly had just blanketed the Bears in Game one. And after Christensen quickly fell behind the count 0-2 by whiffing badly at O’Toole’s changeup, a five-out save seemed inevitable.
But after seven hitter Jessie Scroggins picked up her second RBI of the night to cut the lead to one with two outs, Christensen was able to redeem herself. The catcher blasted a double to tie the game. Then Taylor Ellis hooked a two-RBI double for the Bears to go back up by two runs. The seven, eight and nine hitters miraculously strung together three consecutive hits— two for extra bases— all with two outs off of O’Toole.
Kelsee Selman started again in the circle for Baylor, and was a different caliber of pitcher. Her execution of pitches was perfect and her own changeup was dropping in to catch the Wildcats looking. The navigation of the two-headed Arizona hitting monster of Katiyana Mauga and Mo Mercado was solved with four walks to Mauga (three intentional) and holding Mercado to one hit in four at-bats.
Baylor forced a decisive Game three in the Tucson Super Regional by using a combination of speed and power to get past starting sophomore pitcher Taylor McQuillin. Coach Glenn Moore was cautious when pitching to Mauga, however, Arizona is a number two seed because they have others who can pick up the slack such as Mandi Perez and Jessie Harper—both of whom helped the Wildcats take a 4-2 lead.
In Game 3 where the winner takes all and moves on to Oklahoma City for the WCWS, Arizona will most likely throw O’Toole where as the Bears will have to choose between Selman and Gia Rodoni. The Bears will once again have to force the issue with their speed on the base path and get clutch hits from unlikely heroes. Baylor will also have to stay away from Mauga, and limit the production of Perez, Mercado and Harper (the one, three and four hitters).
It should add up to another instant softball classic when both teams take the field tonight in Game 3 of the Tucson Super Regional on ESPN at 6 p.m. CST.