It was a pitching duel on Sunday afternoon at Rocky Johnson Field as Baylor senior Whitney Canion and Texas Tech sophomore Gretchen Aucoin combined for 18 strikeouts, six hits allowed and only two runs.
Two of Baylor’s five hits were solo home runs, though, as the No. 12 Bears completed a three-game series sweep over the Red Raiders with a 2-0 win.
“The difference was Gretchen pitching well, getting ahead in the counts and going and challenging them,” Tech coach Shanon Hays said. “Gretchen threw good enough for us to win today. That’s the kind of outings she’s been giving us. She didn’t give us that on Friday, but she came back and I’m proud of how she responded.”
Aucoin was the losing pitcher in a 14-1 series opening defeat Friday, giving up six runs on seven hits in only three innings.
On Sunday, she threw a complete game with no walks, five hits and nine strikeouts.
Aucoin said she entered the circle on Sunday trusting everything she had.
“I definitely stepped up a lot since I last pitched,” Aucoin said. “(Whitney Canion’s) just got a killer rise ball, which I can’t really compete with at this point. It was just a constant battle between the two of us. They have some great hitters who got ahold of what I missed.”
The first Bear to go yard on Aucoin was senior Clare Hosack, who hit her fourth homer of the weekend in the top of the fourth inning to give Baylor a 1-0 lead.
Jordan Strickland added some insurance to the Bears’ lead with a solo shot of her own in the top of the seventh.
That was all Canion, Baylor’s all-time wins leader, needed. The former U.S. national team member threw a one-hitter and struck out nine.
Baylor had a chance to score in the top of the third with the bases loaded and one out.
Freshman Ari Hawkins stepped up to the plate and hit a hard grounder to freshman Ashley Fultz at third. Fultz threw home for the force, and sophomore catcher Kady Crow turned two getting the batter out at first.
“It was great for us,” Hays said. “We needed that after the mistake we made early. (Samantha Camello) made a great play in the hole and made a good fake. We had the girl in a rundown and we dropped the ball. We were fortunate there to get out of a tough spot, and when you do that you feel like you have a great chance to win. But it didn’t end up that way.”
While the Red Raider defense was much improved since the first two games against Baylor, the offense still struggled against Canion, a senior lefthander.
Camello had the lone hit for Tech with a single to right field in the bottom of the first.
“Whitney Canion is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and we tip our hats to her,” Hays said. “She’d been a little off earlier in the season. We were hoping for an off game where she would give us a walk or two here and there and get behind in the counts so we could hit, but she was dominant today and didn’t let us do that.
“The good thing about it is we got to see a great pitcher and hopefully we learn from that and we’ll be better throughout conference because of it.”
One thing that makes Canion so tough, as Aucoin mentioned, is her rise ball.
“She throws so hard, the ball’s jumping up,” Hays said. “You almost have to visually cheat yourself and swing above the ball to make good, solid contact.”
Throughout the weekend, Tech recorded nine hits, six of which came off the Bears’ No. 2 pitcher, Heather Stearns.
“We can honestly take away that we need to work better on our bats,” Aucoin said. “We’re not going to see a pitcher like Canion throughout the rest of conference play. It keeps us very hopeful because we have a chance. We’ve done so well against them the past few games and given ourselves chances. We just want to go out there and attack even more.”
BAYLOR 2, TEXAS TECH 0
Baylor 000 100 1 — 2 5 0
Tech 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Canion and Hosack; Aucoin and Crow. W — Canion (15-5). L — Aucoin (8-5). 2B—BU, Hays, Strickland, Young. HR—BU, Hosack, Strickland. Records: BU 27-6, 3-1; Tech 27-12, 0-3.
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