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Softball team wins tournament despite dropping 1st game to Tennessee squad

Feb. 20, 2001

Lady Bears open home play with doubleheader


Sports writer

After losing the first game of the University Centre Classic this weekend in Gainesville, Fla., the Baylor softball team promptly won its next four to claim the title with a 3-1 triumph in nine innings over the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in the championship game.

The Lady Bears are now 12-4 on the year, and the 12 wins have come in their last 13 games.

'We had played against those [UTC] girls a lot so it was good to beat them,' center fielder Naomi Fitzgerald said of herself and fellow Tennessean Jen Polk. 'They had gotten us the first day but we got them when it counted.'

Catcher Ryan Stukel hit .500 and scored three runs on the weekend and Fitzgerald had a pair of multi-hit games.

In the pitching circle, Sarah Caudle and Joni Miller both picked up two wins, while Miller also recorded her third save of the season.

'Joni and Sarah are both pitching really well,' Fitzgerald said, 'and Jill Smith kept people off balance.'

Baylor started the tournament Friday with an 8-1 loss to UTC. The Lady Bears tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Lady Mocs came back with seven runs in the last two innings to finish it.

Baylor quickly rebounded, however, with an 8-0 blanking of Belmont University in six innings later that day. Caudle and Smith combined on the shutout, with Caudle allowing just one hit in four innings of work. Stukel's third home run of the year invoked the mercy rule.

The Lady Bears completed pool play Saturday with another shutout, this time a 2-1 decision over the host University of Florida. Trailing 1-0 with two outs in the top of the sixth, Baylor scored twice on a hit, an error and a wild pitch to take the lead for good.

Caudle and Miller combined to strand nine Gators on base in the game, including seven in scoring position.

The first win over Florida earned Baylor the No. 2 seeding and a follow-up game with the Gators Saturday afternoon. Baylor blew the game open with a four-run fifth inning and went on to win 6-0. Miller went the distance for Baylor's first complete game shutout of the season, scattering nine hits and walking no one. Stukel was 4-4 in the game, while first baseman Colleen Bordages and third baseman Holly Fields each drove in two runs.

'Anytime you play a team 2-1 it's up in the air as to who's going to get the second game,' Fitzgerald said. 'But Florida came out with a pretty cocky attitude so we wanted to show them we were the better team.'

In Sunday's title game, Stukel started the top of the ninth inning on second base because of the international tiebreaker rule, and scored what proved to be the winning run on shortstop Koral King's RBI single. King then scored an insurance run on an error by UTC second baseman Dana Reed.

Baylor opens its home season with a doubleheader tonight against Oklahoma City University. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.