Softball Takes Center StageAug. 21, 2007
The Baylor softball team won its first Big 12 Conference title and capped off the 2007 season with the program's first trip to the Women's College World Series, finishing the year ranked eighth nationally.
In their final regular season game, a Getterman Stadium-record crowd saw the Lady Bears defeat sixth-ranked Texas A&M in extra innings. When the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced a week later, the Lady Bears were given the No. 8 national seed but sent to Hempstead, New York, to play in the NCAA Hofstra Regional.
Baylor took care of business there, winning three straight games to move on to host Michigan in the NCAA Waco Super Regional. After splitting the first two games, the Lady Bears blanked the Wolverines 4-0 to earn their first College World Series appearance.
"We arranged the 2006 schedule to benefit the 2007 team," says head coach Glenn Moore. "We felt that we had a team that, if it was tested and survived that type of schedule, with the freshmen we had coming in, we would have our best chance. Everything kind of fell into place as we planned."
In Oklahoma City, the annual CWS site, Baylor battled eventual national champion Arizona into extra innings before falling, 2-1. The Lady Bears bounced back two days later to defeat Texas A&M for the third time on the season, but couldn't follow that up in a nightcap game and were knocked out of the double-elimination tournament by Northwestern.
The Lady Bears finished the season with a 51-16 record, tying the 2005 team for the most wins in school history. Getterman Stadium welcomed a school-record 24,222 fans through its turnstiles, good for an average of 897 fans per game, also a school record.
Sophomore third baseman Brette Reagan was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America third team, becoming the first two-time all-American in program history. Senior first baseman Ashley Monceaux also earned third-team all-America honors after setting single-season school records with a .413 batting average, 20 home runs and 71 RBI.
Big 12 Freshman of the Year Kirsten Shortridge went 17-6 with a 2.14 ERA and finished third on the team with a .340 average. Shortridge, Monceaux and Reagan were joined on the All-Big 12 First Team by seniors Chelsi Lake, the Lady Bears' all-time leader in career home runs and RBI, and Lisa Ferguson, the school's career wins leader. Senior Miriam Romero earned second-team all-conference honors.
Lake was also one of two Baylor student-athletes to earn a $5,000 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship from the Big 12 Conference (the other was track's Bo Price).
Moore says the program's success has allowed Baylor to begin looking into expanding Getterman Stadium. After playing eight televised games this season and in front of four sellout crowds at home, not to mention over 8,000 fans in their final CWS game, the Lady Bears are ready for more in 2008.
"Tasting that bit of glory ... It's something you can't describe to anyone, but once you've gone though it, you want more of it," Moore says.
2007 Athletics wrap-up
Softball wasn't the only program with a successful season. For the second straight year, a school-record 13 of Baylor's 18 teams participated in postseason play. The Bears finished 38th out of nearly 300 athletic programs in the final U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings, the school's third-best finish ever.
Besides softball, the men's and women's tennis programs led the spring charge as each team won the Big 12 Conference regular-season title. It was the men's sixth straight crown; the women claimed their third in a row and fourth in five years. Both programs went on to win the Big 12 Tournament, as well.
With a 28-4 record, the Baylor men finished fourth nationally after advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight season and becoming the only team in the country to have reached the national semifinals each of the last four years.
Junior Lars Poerschke was named Big 12 Player of the Year and earned all-America recognition, while coach Matt Knoll shared Big 12 Coach of the Year honors with Oklahoma State's James Wadley. Senior Michal Kokta received first-team CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors.
The Baylor women reached the Round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year and finished 13th in the final national rankings after a 24-7 season that included a 10-1 conference record.
Zuzana Zemenova became the first three-time all-American in program history and reached the semifinals of the 2007 NCAA Singles Championship. She earned her third consecutive Big 12 Player of the Year honor to become only the third student-athlete in the league's 11-year history to win a Player of the Year award three straight years, joining Baylor's Benedikt Dorsch (2003-05 in men's tennis) and Oklahoma State's Maria Boden (1999-2001 in women's golf).
Track & Field
On the track, the Baylor men's 4x400-meter relay teams swept the indoor and outdoor national titles for the fourth time in school history. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Baylor won the 4x400-meter relay in a school-record 3:00.04.
As a team, the Baylor men tied for 10th at the NCAA Indoor Championships and tied for 15th at the NCAA Outdoors. Senior Reggie Witherspoon was named the Big 12 Indoor Performer of the Year, while former Waco High star LeJerald Betters was named the Big 12 Outdoor Freshman of the Year. All-told, the men's track team had 14 all-Americans (eight during the indoor season and six outdoors).
The Baylor women's track and field team's season was highlighted by freshman Nichole Jones, who became the youngest student-athlete ever to win a conference individual track crown and went on to earn Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Freshman of the Year honors. The Baylor women tied for 50th at the NCAA Indoor Championships and had their distance medley relay team earn all-America status. At the NCAA Outdoor, Jones became the first student-athlete in program history to earn all-America honors in the 800.
The Baylor baseball team earned its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years after a late-season hot streak that included the Bears' fifth Big 12 Tournament title game appearance. Third baseman Raynor Campbell was named to Collegiate Baseball's Freshman all-America team, and sophomore shortstop Beamer Weems earned unanimous first-team all-Big 12 honors. The Washington Nationals drafted senior pitcher Jeff Mandel in the 19th round, marking the 17th straight season that at least one Bear has been selected. Baylor Ballpark welcomed a school-record average attendance of 3,180 fans per game.
The women's golf team placed third at the Big 12 Championships, matching its best Big 12 finish ever, and advanced to NCAA Regional competition for the eighth consecutive season. The Bears' men's golf team earned its 10th straight NCAA Regional appearance and finished 33rd nationally.
In its second season of varsity competition, the women's equestrian program finished eighth in the Varsity Equestrian National Championships, which were hosted by Baylor at the Heart O' Texas Fairgrounds. Baylor's Western team placed fifth at the national competition and the English team finished eighth. It marked the second consecutive year the Baylor English team advanced to the national meet.
Success & Support
With five Big 12 team titles this spring, Baylor has now claimed 16 conference championships in the past four years--a total that ranks second among all Big 12 schools.
Off the field, Baylor led the Big 12 Conference in both institutional four-class graduation rate and Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to data compiled by the NCAA. Baylor's baseball program received a public recognition award from the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program for having an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score which ranked among the top 10 percent within the sport.
Baylor University's five-year intercollegiate athletics capital campaign, "Victory with Integrity," continued to fuel the most successful two-year athletic development period in school history and is on its way to achieving its stated goal of producing $90 million in private support for the school's 18-sport NCAA Division I-A sports program.
The most ambitious capital campaign in the department's history has resulted in approved capital construction projects totaling more than $45 million. The athletic endowment has grown to $22 million while the Baylor Bear Foundation enjoyed its finest year ever in 2006-07, raising a total of $4.6 million for student-athlete scholarships.
With one quarter remaining, Baylor was on pace to top the $200,000 mark in licensing royalties for the second straight year and break its school-record total for the third consecutive year. Student attendance increased in 2006-07, highlighted by an increase of over 300 students per home football game. On average, more than half (6,000) of Baylor's 11,831 undergraduate students attended each home football game in 2006.