Throughout his 19 years as Baylor’s softball coach, Glenn Moore has pieced together a lot of big, program-defining moments.
Four Women’s College Series appearances, 13 NCAA regional bids, and the school’s only Big 12 title in 2007 all add up to a resume any coach would be proud of.
Coaching a team gutted by injuries, Moore’s perspective is different this season. Wins that would have seemed like small victories in the past now loom big, like Tuesday’s 6-0 and 2-0 doubleheader sweep of Lamar at Getterman Stadium that snapped Baylor’s first eight-game losing streak since 2003.
“I’m not going to lie, it felt good,” Moore said. “Right now, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the field. You just need to find small victories. I don’t even think those were small victories for us right now. We’re having trouble getting in sync with each other and just playing consistent fundamental softball, and we were able to do that and put two complete games together.”
Moore hopes that momentum carries over to Baylor’s three-game series against Iowa State beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Getterman Stadium. The second game is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. followed by Saturday’s noon finale.
For a coach who has won a program-record 755 games at Baylor, Moore is in a position that he’s wholly unaccustomed to. Now 17-24 overall and 2-11 in the Big 12, the Lady Bears are in a fight with Kansas (2-7) and Iowa State (1-8) for the final two spots in the six-team Big 12 tournament May 9-11 in Oklahoma City.
Winning the Big 12 tournament is Baylor’s only chance of making its ninth straight NCAA regional appearance. Taking the series against Iowa State would give the Lady Bears a good shot to make the conference tournament.
Baylor’s last two Big 12 games are against Texas in Austin May 4-5. Iowa State, 24-18 overall, has three-game series against Oklahoma and Kansas in Ames left to play.
“I think they’re a team that’s better than us right now and we’re going to have to play great ball and we’re going to have to have that bullpen to get a couple wins this weekend,” Moore said. “We’re certainly not taking Iowa State lightly just because they only have one win (in Big 12 play). We’ve watched some of the games they’ve played and how they’ve competed. And they competed well against us last year up there when we were a much stronger team.”
The Lady Bears started this season in a big hole following season-ending injuries to ace pitcher Gia Rodoni (knee surgery) and top hitter Kyla Walker (hip surgery). But it’s progressively gotten worse with pitcher Regan Green, infielder Hannah Thompson, outfielder Maddison Kettler and catcher Tyler Trott going down with injuries.
After a six-week absence, Green returned to pitch two shutout innings Tuesday against Lamar while Thompson pinch hit in the same game. Both players returned from rib injuries. Trott saw some time at catcher against Lamar after being out with concussion-like symptoms.
“To be out there helping my team, oh my gosh, it was so worth it and I love being back,” said Green, who is 2-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 15 appearances this season. “I feel really good. For about the last week and a half, I’ve been bugging my trainer about letting me get back, just because I’ve felt good the last two weeks.”
While Moore will carefully monitor Green’s innings, her availability out of the bullpen will give Sidney Holman (10-15, 4.94 ERA) a much-needed break. Before first baseman Goose McGlaun started at pitcher in Baylor’s final game against Texas Tech on Sunday, Holman had started all 12 Big 12 games and had logged most of the innings.
“Just the psychological point of it with Sidney knowing someone could come in and help her out rather than just staying in there and having a bad couple innings that you don’t have the offense to recover from, now we might be able to squelch that a little bit,” Moore said. “Not just Regan but what we’ve been able to get out of Goose and Kassidy (Krupit) as well. We have some options now. For so long we had no options.”
Iowa State’s offense is led by one of the top sluggers in the Big 12 in Sami Williams, who is hitting .396 with 11 homers and 26 RBIs. The Cyclones’ pitching staff is keyed by right-handers Emma Hyler (11-7, 3.02 ERA), Savannah Sanders (2-7, 3.80) and Shannon Mortimer (6-4, 2.58).
“They’re a good team that we match up fairly well against,” Moore said. “So we have an opportunity to play some of the best ball we’ve played right now. Everything’s pointing toward the possibility of us doing that. I guess you could go backwards, we all know that, but we’re in a pretty good position right now.”