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Softball team forced to share weekend tourney title with 3 other teams

Feb. 13, 2001

Bears win 7 straight games, close in on school record

By ROB SINCLAIR

Sports writer

The Baylor softball team was declared quad-champions of the UT-Arlington/Isuzu Motors Intercollegiate Classic this weekend in Arlington. With all of Sunday's games rained out, the Lady Bears had to share the championship with the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Texas A&M University and the No. 2-ranked University of Oklahoma.

'We have a long ways to go but these kids have a lot of heart and fight,' Baylor head Coach Glenn Moore said. 'They never give in. I'm really pleased with the level of play.'

Baylor improved to 8-3 on the year and has now won seven straight games. The school record is 10 consecutive wins, set in 1983.

The tournament began on Friday for Baylor, which swept pool play with a 5-1 win over UTA, a 3-1 decision over the University of Arkansas and a wild 9-8 win in eight innings over the University of Kentucky.

In the game against the Wildcats, designated player Ryan Stukel beat out an infield hit with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to score center fielder Naomi Fitzgerald from third base. Stukel had pushed the game into extra-innings in the seventh with a three-run homer.

'We were scoring the whole time,' catcher Jen Polk said, who herself hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the win over Kentucky. 'We got hits when we needed to.'

In the first game Saturday, Baylor again went deep to defeat Stephen F. Austin State University. In the bottom of the sixth, left fielder Vanessa VandeBurgt popped-up to SFA second baseman Shannon Mori, who dropped the ball. Baylor second baseman Stacey Hundley scooted home from third base with what proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win.

In Saturday's second game, Baylor was down to its final at-bat when shortstop Koral King delivered the game-winning double to upset the No. 21-ranked University of Southern Mississippi 5-4. The Lady Bears have now beaten two of the three ranked teams they have played this season.

'This team needs to learn how to win,' Moore said. 'They're figuring it out. Each victory makes the kids more hungry.'

As a team, Baylor hit .331 on the weekend with six doubles and three home runs, including a pair by Stukel.

Individually, Stukel hit .412 in the tournament, while Hundley and pitcher/designated hitter Sarah Caudle both hit .500. Pitcher Joni Miller improved to 5-1 on the year with three wins and a 1.03 ERA over the two days. Caudle (3-2) got Baylor's other two wins.

'We had some of the best pitching there,' Polk said. 'Their arms are in shape and the balls are moving.'

Moore also pointed out the importance of Baylor's role players.

'We got some great innings out of the bullpen,' he said, 'and we've had to have Colleen Bordages in the lineup because she's on top of her game.'

Baylor now has a week to prepare for the University of Florida Centre Classic beginning Friday in Gainesville. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Belmont University will also participate.

'Each week the competition gets a little better,' Moore said. 'We're looking at this as a business trip, and we have to take care of business.'