#24 Baylor Softball Preview

Baylor Bears

Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: #3 Big 12

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Baylor had high hopes entering 2012, fresh from a loss in the semi-finals of the 2011 College World Series.  But the unexpected loss of All-American pitcher Whitney Canion to an ACL injury early in 2012 tempered enthusiasm.  Coach Glenn Moore’s Baylor Bears fought to find consistency but did manage to pull together enough to collect victories over Oklahoma, Oregon, North Carolina and Texas.  The team got some key wins, but did struggle to a sub .500 Big 12 record and a sixth place finish in the league.  Despite the ups and downs, the Bears reached the NCAA Tournament.  A fielding percentage that was ranked 20th nationally coupled with the 22nd ranked ERA helped buoy the Bear club.  The one positive for Coach Moore’s offense was a squad that could steal bases as they ranked 12th in Division I.  With Canion back and ready for action, the Bears look to make a deep run.  The bunch from Waco adds seven newcomers (two red-shirt freshmen and five freshmen) to 11 letter winners.  Baylor has a challenging 2013 schedule with 21 games against 12 teams that made the Tournament in 2012, five against teams that played in the World Series.  Coach Moore is hopeful, “We have a high ceiling in 2013.  We can be very good but the season must develop us.  We have a couple of unanswered questions that only great competition will answer.  The club should have a chance to be a top 20 team when we find our identity.”

2012: 34-22, 10-14
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Glenn Moore, 13th Season

Field Players:
The Bears return five of their defensive starters, three in the infield.  Coach Moore had this to say about some of his veterans, “Kathy Shelton and Whitney Canion will provide valuable leadership off the field, but they will also lead on the field both offensively and defensively along with offense from Holly Holl and Kaitlyn Thumann.  Clare Hosack will handle Canion well and with one of the best arms in the nation she’ll keep runners in check.  I also feel good at the shortstop position with Jordan Strickland being potentially the best middle infielder in BU history; we will need her to take control of the infield.”  Shelton, a senior, ranked 20th nationally in stolen bases (30).  The two-time All Big 12 honoree led her team last season in hits (57) runs (41), stolen bases, on-base percentage (.414), and walks (21).  The centerfielder is fourth in career stolen bases at Baylor, with a quality chance to be the school’s all-time leader.  Junior first baseman Holly Holl was also All-Conference, hit .335 with 13 doubles, tops on the team.  Junior catcher Clare Hosak drove in 41 and walked 20 times.  Sophomore Kaitlyn Thumann started just 16 games last year.  She appeared in 51 games and came on late, hitting .411.  She will play right field.

Coach Moore feels pretty good about his bullpen in 2013, “Potentially the best in Baylor history.  Of course, Whitney Canion will lead the way, but Courtney Repka and Liz Paul had quality time leading us to the NCAA’s last year and through the entire Big 12 season without Canion and that will pay dividends.  These three will carry us.”  Canion, a 2011 NFCA All-American and a member of the 2011 USA National Team, has made solid rehab progress and will be ready to go when the season starts.  The junior lefty, red shirted twice due to injury, already holds numerous single season and career pitching records.  Senior Courtney Repka did the heavy lifting last spring going 16-13 with a 1.97 ERA, hurling 14 complete.  Liz Paul, a junior, was also solid, winning 12 with 10 complete games and a 1.92 ERA.

Who to Watch:
“The freshman class is expected to contribute both immediately and with quality depth.  Linsey Hays will be an immediate threat as the potential lead-off.  Sarah Smith should be in the lineup either at third base, left field or DP as she will eventually bring much power.  Bailey Chalmers will back up Hosack and will see a good bit of sub time early,” Coach Moore said.  Hays is a redshirt freshman who was a high school basketball and softball State Champion, a four-time All-State selection and a State Player of the Year.  As a senior she hit .645, mashed 19 homers and drove in 58.  Chalmers is also a red shirt freshman and played club ball with Hays for two seasons.  The catcher was named to the 2011 ESPN Rise Under Armour All-American game and was All-State as a senior.

Final Projection:
With the return of Canion and some power added to the lineup, optimism is high in Waco about the upcoming campaign.  Coach Moore shard some thoughts, “Replacing Megan Turk at 3rd is our biggest challenge.  We have to get much better to close that gap her departure is leaving us with.  Baylor Defense on the hot corners has been as good as any in the country for the past 10 years with Turk, Brette Reagan and Stephanie Pomes.  Expect to see a significant improvement in power this season.”  With improved offense and Canion’s return to form, the Bears could finish near the top of the Big 12 and like 2011, make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kathy Shelton, CF, 171
Hits: Kathy Shelton, CF, 57
Home Runs: Clare Hosak, C, 3
RBIs: Clare Hosak, C, 20
Runs: Kathy Shelton, CF, 41
Stolen Bases: Kathy Shelton, CF, 30

Wins: Courtney Repka, P, 16
Innings Pitched: Courtney Repka, P, 195.2
Strikeouts: Courtney Repka, P, 89
Saves: Liz Paul, P, 2

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#61 Heather Stearns
#92 Sarah Smith


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