#15 Baylor Softball 2014 Preview

Baylor Bears

Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #2 Big 12
#15 Baylor Softball 2014 Preview
Baylor Team Page


They don’t just play football and basketball in Waco, Texas. The Baylor softball program had some success last year thanks to a speed-oriented game with plenty of power. That combination resulted in a 40-win season and a trip to the NCAA tournament. There are some key departures this year, but some talent returns for another run at a Big 12 championship.

2013: 42-17, 10-8
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Glenn Moore

Field Players:
There are 15 letterwinners returning to the Baylor program, including three key returnees that provide some average, power and speed to the lineup. Sophomore Sarah Smith hit .365 last year with 25 runs, five home runs and 30 runs batted in. She also displayed some extra-base power with ten doubles and a triple. Although senior Holly Holl only hit .284, she also drew 38 walks and had 11 doubles and one triple. Drawing all those walks helped her on-base percentage (.418). The other big returnee, junior Kaitlyn Thumann, had a .372 average and stole 30 bases. Her return will help offset the loss of Kathy Shelton, who graduated and took 40 steals with her. The good news is Shelton was one of just three letterwinners who graduated.

Redshirt senior Whitney Canion is the straw that stirs the pitching staff, and she will be called upon to deliver the goods in 2014. Canion threw 209 innings last year and went 24-9 with a 1.94 earned run average in 43 appearances. Canion could stand to reduce her walk count (100 in 2013), but as long as she strikes out 269 batters a season, the team will be in good shape. Canion also had five shutouts last season. Heather Stearns (12-6, 2.09) struck out 160 batters and allowed 28 walks, so she will be a strong backup to Canion.

Who to Watch:
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association recognized Shelton, Holl and Canion for their play last year, and with two of those three back, the Bears are in a solid position. Baylor has also ensured a solid future because three of its six freshmen newcomers can play multiple positions. Ariana Hawkins is someone to watch out for in 2014, as the California native hit .576 as a senior at Kimball High School in Mountain House, Calif. As with all freshmen, time will tell if Hawkins cracks the lineup. If she does and hits well, that will give Baylor more of a push toward that Big 12 title.

Final Projection:
The center of the softball universe literally went through Oklahoma City a year ago, as the Sooners captured the Big 12 title and the NCAA championship. With 57 wins, Oklahoma will be hard to beat once again, but Baylor will give it a try for 40 victories and a second-place finish in the Big 12. With games against Iowa, California, Stanford, Northwestern on the early part of the schedule, Baylor will be tested early and often. Its showdown with Oklahoma comes early in the Big 12 season (April 11-13) so the conference might be decided early. Don’t count Baylor out, just know the Sooners will be a hard act to beat.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Linsey Hays, OF, 194
Hits: Kaitlyn Thumann, OF, 68
Home Runs: Sarah Smith, IF/OF, 6; Linsey Hays, OF, 6
RBIs: Linsey Hays, OF, 41
Runs: Kaitlyn Thumann, OF, 49
Stolen Bases: Kaitlyn Thumann, OF, 30

Wins: Whitney Canion, P, 24
Innings Pitched: Whitney Canion, P, 209.1
Strikeouts: Whitney Canion, P, 268
Saves: Whitney Canion, P, 3

Madness 2014 NPF Draft Rankings:
#6 Whitney Canion


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