Softball earns sweep in home opener


Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

Tuesday was a day of firsts for the Baker softball team. In the home opener, the Wildcats earned their first home run, sweep, run rule win and walk-off win of the 2016 season. The wins put Baker at 4-3 overall.

The Wildcats overcame early errors and a six-run deficit in game one of the doubleheader to defeat Southwestern College, 9-6.

Baker made three errors in the first two innings, leading to six Southwestern runs by six different players. Freshman Caitlin Hardgrove’s third-inning double brought in two runners for Baker to start the scoring for the ‘Cats. Sophomore Stephanie Cardona also had two RBI and freshman Hannah Tolliver scored three runs to lead the Wildcats.

Freshman Olivia Brees pitched game one for the ‘Cats, striking out five Southwestern hitters.

“The comeback win helped us come out strong in the second,” sophomore Madison Nedved said, “and we knew they would come out even stronger because they had just lost.”

The momentum from game one carried over into the second game for the Wildcats. Nedved pitched game two for Baker and recorded her first win on the mound, 9-1.

“I was just looking to keep the ball low and have a lot of movement so that hopefully I would be given more shots,” Nedved said.

Megan Walentynowicz’s single in the first inning brought Remington Samuels home to score a run for Southwestern. Baker responded with a run of its own, as Tolliver scored off of a Hardgrove RBI.

In the third inning, Cardona hit her first home run of the season over the right field fence to build the energy for the ‘Cats. In the bottom of the fifth, the ‘Cats scored two runs off of Cardona’s walk-off single to end the game early with the run rule.

Baker started the season at the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth on Feb. 12-13 with a 2-3 record. After starting the tournament with a loss, the Wildcats defeated LSU Alexandria, 10-4. LSU Alexandria started the season ranked No. 4 in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll.

The Wildcats then lost the next two games of the tournament. Against Concordia, Baker lost 14-3, with the run rule. Against William Penn, the ‘Cats were up 2-1, but William Penn scored 10 runs in the last three innings.

Next up for the Wildcats is the Central Baptist Meltdown on Friday and Saturday in Conway, Arkansas.