Not even back-to-back home runs could help Baylor win at University Field.
In a 4-3 win against the Bears on Sunday, Missouri had to hold off a seventh-inning Baylor rally.
Trailing 4-0, the Bears turned to home runs rather than their usual finesse hitting.
Chelsi Lake hit a home run to center field, scoring Melissa Maler, who had singled. Harmony Schwethelm, the Bears’ leadoff hitter, then scored an in-the-park home run. Her hit to left field narrowly escaped the grasp of Morgan LeCluyse, who dove in an effort to make the out. A ground out and a pop fly ended the inning.
The runs were the first for Baylor in a Big 12 Conference road game this season. The Tigers, who swept the two-game home series, have won all 10 of their home games this season.
Baylor struggled against Missouri’s defense. The Missouri fielders moved closer to the plate to accommodate the Bears’ slap bunters and speed. The wind, which gusted to 28 mph from the south, also forced adjustments. Throughout the game, fly balls hung in the air and dropped close to the infield.
“It was a factor in how we played defense,” coach Ty Singelton said. “Also, with their hitters our infielders played shallow as well.”
Three doubles helped the Tigers (21-21, 8-2) take the lead.
Leanne Bowers’ fourth-inning double scored Alli Kennewell, who had reached first on an error and went to second when Sarah Stringer walked. Stringer advanced to third on the double and scored on a passed ball.
One inning earlier, Bowers scored on a Kathy Masterson double. Bowers reached first on an error and stole second.
In the second, Samantha Fleeman hit her first double of the season. She advanced on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly.
“We hit the ball hard today; that forced some errors,” Fleeman said. “They’re a good defensive team, so we just kept putting it in play and they were bound to make errors.”
Missouri capitalized on four Baylor (37-12, 7-5) errors but committed none in the series.
“That’s how you’re supposed to play the game; capitalize on their mistakes and try to play solid in the field and not make any,” Bowers said. “That way we don’t give them anything extra.”
Missouri has focused on driving the ball hard all season.
“With some people on the bases, hitting the ball hard with some movement on the bases, it creates the defense having to make reads,” Singleton said. “When they’re having to do that, and field a ball that’s been hit solidly, it’s not always easy to do.”
Erin Kalka (17-13) allowed six hits and threw three strikeouts, the first of which did not come until the sixth inning. In Saturday’s 1-0 win she struck out seven.
The Tiger defense was solid, though, and did not allow a runner past second base until the seventh.
“We’re having her pitch to get outs,” Singleton said. “Her stuff wasn’t as lively (Sunday) as it was (Saturday), but we’re having her pitch to get outs. So if she’s throwing the ball where we’re getting ground balls hit where we want them, then that’s exactly what we want. That’s getting an out.”
Missouri moved to .500 with the victory.
“You have to be above .500 to go to postseason, so it’s nice to be above .500,” Singleton said. “Hopefully it’ll help us at the end of the season. Without winning a Big 12 Tournament, if we’re above .500 and continue to play well and finish strong in the conference, then we have a legitimate shot to go to postseason.”