TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona came into the Super Regional leading the nation in homers, but Baylor delivered the long ball when it counted the most.
Freshman Shelby McGlaun blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning to lift No. 15 Baylor to a dramatic 6-5 win over No. 2 Arizona on Sunday night to advance to its fourth Women’s College World Series.
After opening the series with a 3-2 loss to the Wildcats (52-9), the Lady Bears (48-13) came back to win the last two games to reach the World Series for the first time since 2014. Baylor will face No. 10 Oklahoma on Thursday in the opening round at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group of girls, the toughest team I’ve ever coached in over 20 years of coaching,” said Baylor coach Glenn Moore. “They never quit. They show up to play every time, and they were rewarded in a big way today against a great team. They’re a program that many people thought could have won it all this year. I can’t say anything better about this team, they’re just warriors.”
Arizona scored a pair of sixth inning runs to take a 5-3 lead but Baylor wasn’t finished. On Saturday night, the Lady Bears scored four sixth-inning runs to rally for a 6-4 win, and they came through again in the series finale.
After Arizona ace Danielle O’Toole allowed 10 hits in six innings, Taylor McQuillin (16-4) relieved in the seventh. Ari Hawkins opened the inning with a double for her third hit of the night. With first base open, McQuillin intentionally walked Shelby Friudenberg who had driven in Baylor’s first three runs with a double and a two-run homer.
McGlaun drilled a 2-0 pitch over the center-field fence for her 11th homer of the season to give Baylor a 6-5 lead. It was her third hit of the game and by far the biggest.
“We didn’t want to go down without a fight, and especially in regards to the senior class,” McGlaun said. “With a 2-0 count, I was looking for a pitch I could hit, a pitch I could drive. And I knew she would probably give it to me in that count. As soon as it came off the bat, I had a feeling. And then I saw the centerfielder ran out of room and got excited.”
Baylor still had to stop Arizona in the bottom of the seventh. Gia Rodoni (18-3), who relieved starter Kelsee Selman in the sixth, walked the first two batters in the seventh.
But Baylor got a break when catcher Sydney Christensen grabbed Rodoni’s high pitch off the backstop and threw out pinch runner Alexis Dotson at second for the first out.
After Rodoni walked Dejah Mulipola, Selman came back into the game with a 1-0 count against Reyna Carranco and threw three straight balls for the walk.
But Selman forced Ashleigh Hughes to fly out and pinch hitter Nancy Bowling to ground out to finish off the win and send the Lady Bears to Oklahoma City.
“I’m really excited,” Selman said. “I actually went to the World Series my sophomore year with LSU when I was there. This team deserves it, they’re unbelievable. They kept me in the game multiple, multiple times.”
Friudenberg continued her hot hitting as she drilled a run-scoring double in the first inning before lifting a towering two-run homer over the left-field fence in the third inning to give Baylor a 3-1 lead.
The Wildcats tied the game 3-3 in the fifth with run-scoring singles by Mo Mercado and Jessie Harper. Selman escaped further damage by forcing Tamara Statman to fly out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Baylor missed a chance to take the lead in the sixth when Taylor Ellis missed the third-base bag for the third out as she headed home from second on Kyla Walker’s single.
Arizona grabbed the momentum in the bottom of the sixth as Mulipola tripled down the right-field line and scored on Carranco’s single. Rodoni relieved and issued a bases loaded walk to Mercado, but Arizona left the bases loaded when Jessie Harper struck out to end the inning.