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WALK-OFF OPENER: Hosack's 3-Run HR Lifts Lady Bears Over UAB, 4-2

Feb. 15, 2014

By Jodi Sandifer
Baylor Bear Insider

Standing at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, with the 14th-ranked Baylor Lady Bears trailing by one, the last thing on Clare Hosack's mind was hitting a walk-off home run.

But after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches, the senior catcher blasted a three-run shot over the wall in left-center field as Baylor came from behind for a dramatic 4-2 victory over UAB before knocking off Drake by the same score on Friday on the first day of the Getterman Classic.

"We were down by one, so I was just trying to get it into the gap to score at least one to tie it up, and hopefully two if you can get it," Hosack said. "I really wasn't thinking of a home run. I was just trying to get it in the outfield."

But as soon as she connected, Hosack knew it.

"It felt really good when it came off the bat," she said. "It definitely felt solid. I knew to sprint to first. It definitely felt good."

Baylor coach Glenn Moore, whose team improved to 6-1, says Hosack has been working hard to become more of an offensive threat. Just last weekend, she tied a school record with three doubles in a game at the Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. With a 3-for-4 performance, Hosack matched her career high for hits for the third time this season.

"She's really started off her senior year the way you'd hope most seniors could," said Moore, whose team improved to 6-1. "She's challenged herself to improve offensively. She's one of the best catchers in the country, so defensively it's not been a problem for her."

Of her game-winning heroics, Moore said: "It was a nice dramatic ending, and I'm proud for Clare. She got it on a good pitch and was able to get it out of the park. So, it was fun for the crowd and fans, and fun for her. We played a good game, regardless if we won or lost it."

After Baylor and UAB put up a run apiece in the second frame, the 1-1 tie remained unbroken until the Blazers (1-5) pushed across an unearned run in the top of the ninth.

Using the international tiebreaker rule, UAB started the ninth with Amy Waters at second. She moved up on Caitlin Attfield's sacrifice bunt and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by freshman second baseman Ari Hawkins.

Freshman Lindsey Cargill started the bottom of the ninth at second and moved up on an infield single by Sarah Smith. Pinch-runner Jill Reid moved up to second on a wild pitch before Hosack's game-winning blast.

Senior pitcher Whitney Canion (3-1) also had a stellar game, tossing a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts and three walks while allowing just one earned run in lowering her ERA to 2.40.

In the final game of the day, sophomore Heather Stearns gave up just one run on three hits in four innings against a winless Drake team (0-7) to pick up her third win of the season. Senior Liz Paul threw the last three innings and notched her third career save.

Moore called the pitching of Canion, Stearns and Paul the "bright spot" of the day. "They're working on some things as well. It's early in the season, and I think all three threw well."

With the game knotted at 1-1, Cargill provided the difference with a two-run home run in the third following a leadoff double by Kaitlyn Thumann.

For the Robinson native, her first homer was a dream come true.

"It feels amazing to put on the Baylor uniform," she said. "I live five minutes away, and I've always wanted to come to Baylor. Tonight felt great with my family cheering me on. It's amazing."

The Lady Bears added an insurance run in the fourth, when Robin Landrith singled, advanced to third on groundouts by Ari Hawkins and Holly Holl and scored on Justine Young's infield single.

Drake closed the gap with a one-out homer by Amy Pierce in the bottom of the seventh. But with the tying run at the plate, Paul retired Hayley Nybo on a liner to short.

Cargill and Landrith combined for half of the team's eight hits against the visiting Bulldogs.

In Friday's other games, Lipscomb run-ruled both Iowa (10-0) and Drake (9-0), while No. 18/14 Missouri (2-0) opened its season with wins over UAB (8-1) and Iowa (2-1).

Baylor plays Lipscomb.and Iowa (2-4) at 3 and 5:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday, and will close the tournament with a matchup against former Big 12 rival Missouri at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Here are links to the boxscores from Friday's Baylor-UAB and Baylor-Drake softball games.

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