DISCLAIMER: This is my first time live-writing a sporting event, so apologies if I mess up the tenses here and there.
The Lady Bears looked elimination in the face and did not back down.
Surprisingly, Heather Stearns got the start over ace Whitney Canion. Coach Moore said he want to rest Canion (she needs it!) and that Stearns was a better match-up against the Seminole bats.
Baylor went three up three down in the first inning, but Stearns showed that she can start (she is the presumptive ace next year) by striking out the side.
The second inning was much for active for the Lady Bears. Clare Hosack got the first hit of the game on a single down the middle. Linsey Hays hit a single to put runners on the corners. Hays beat out the throw to steal second, putting two runners in scoring position. Sarah Smith laid down a sacrifice grounder to put Hosack across and score the first run of the game. Jordan Strickland then knocked a dinger over the center field wall for a two-run homer. The Lady Bears would get nothing else of note in the second or third innings.
In the bottom of the third, Stearns looked to be in trouble. Following a bunt by Alex Kossoff, Stearns purposely walked white-hot hitter O'Brian. Unfortunately, Stearns walked another hitter and the Seminoles suddenly had the bases loaded with two outs. Up next was Senas, who had knocked in a grand slam against Michigan to help the Seminoles advance to the WCWS. Stearns showed resolve though and sent Senas to the dugout swinging.
The fourth inning saw more Baylor runs. Clare Hosack got her second hit of the inning, sending one through the 5-6 hole (in between the SS and 3B) to advance to first. Linsey Hays dropped one into left field to put runners on the corners once again. Smith grounded out, but Hays was able to steal second. Hosack was caught stealing at home. Jordan Strickland walloped a grounder down the third base line, hitting it so hard that the third baseman was unable to field it, allowing Hays to score and Strickland to second. A single by Robin Landrith put Strickland across to give the Lady Bears a 5-0 lead. Lindsey Cargill grounded out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Stearns struck out the first batter, caused the second to pop off, walked one, and popped out the fourth to keep the score 5-0.
The fifth inning saw Jessica Burroughs replace starting pitcher Lacey Waldrop. Lead off hitter Kaitlyn Thumann was a millisecond late coming off a grounder and was out at first. Ari Hawkins struck out next. Holly Holl grounded out once again and the Seminoles new pitcher did her job and stymied the Baylor bats. In the bottom of the fifth, Stearns took the circle once again looking to continue her domination. Celeste Gomez was up first for FSU. She whacked a deep foul down the left field line, but Stearns got her swinging to record her seventh strike out of the game. Kossoff got her second infield hit of the game with a blooper to second base. O'Brian walked to put runners on first and second. With Tiffani Brown at bat and only one out, Whitney Canion took to the bullpen to warm up. Brown hit a soft roller down left of the pitcher and beat out the throw to first. A missed throw at second was thankfully saved, preventing an easy run. With the bases loaded, Senas came up to bat once again. Despite the rally tea leaves brought by Senas' family from Hawaii, Senas hit directly to Hays in left field, who was able to catch the ball and prevent any runs. Stearns faced a long at bat against Hamilton, who whacked a grounder right past shortstop Jordan Strickland to put two runs across. That did it for Stearns, who was replaced by ace Canion. It was an incredibly solid performance from Stearns, but at 111 pitches, it was time for her to ice that arm! Canion quickly fell behind, 2-0 to the next runner, but was able to cause the fly out and finally end the fifth inning. 5-2, Lady Bears.
To the sixth inning we go. Borroughs remained in for the Seminoles and Clare Hosack lead off once again for the Lady Bears and promptly went down swinging. Hays came up next and reached first on a bunt. Hays stole her second base of the day as Smith went down swinging. Strickland got behind on the count, but she launched one to left field for her second-two run homer of the day! 7-2 Baylor! A great catch from the FSU outfielder denied Landrith and ended the half inning.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Strickland’s 4 RBI most by a BU player in WCWS history; she drives home 13th career postseason RBI to tie for 2nd all-time <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SicEm&src=hash">#SicEm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23WCWS&src=hash">#WCWS</a></p>— Baylor Softball (@BaylorSoftball) <a href="https://twitter.com/BaylorSoftball/statuses/472802140235120640">May 31, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Lead-off hitter hit a deep fly ball off of Canion to start off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double. Canion then walked Victoria East to give the Seminoles two on with no outs. Canion faced another long at-bat against Celeste Gomez, but was able to force another fly out on a very high pitch that would've sent Gomez to first on a ball four. A short hit Kossoff was caught by Strickland for the second out. In a moment of déjà vu, Strickland nabbed the third out in similar fashion.
The seventh inning saw Sarah Crockett come in to pinch hit for Lindsey Cargill. Crockett has played in just 12 games this year and hasn't had a post-season at-bat since last year. She went down swinging. Thumann came up next, but failed to get a hit, she is 0-4 on the day after that at-bat. Hawkins grounded out.
Tiffani Brown was up first for the Seminoles and quickly lined out. A simple ground-out from Senas put the Lady Bears an out away. Canion strikes out Hamilton and the Lady Bears advanced!
The No. 13 Lady Bears face off against No. 14 Kentucky tonight at 6:00 on ESPN!
Player of the Game
Jordan Strickland. Easily. The junior had two two-run homers and a couple of crucial outs. Honorable mention to Heather Stearns for the excellent pitching.
Sic 'em Lady Bears and Sic Kentucky!