Baylor softball to open 2018 among nation’s top 10
When the Baylor softball team walked off the field for the last time in the 2017 season, they did so on the biggest stage in the sport at the Women’s College World Series. Their goal in 2018 is to reach those heights again, and the voters who comprise the sport’s two main top 25 lists — coaches and media members — seem to think they have a chance to do just that.
Head coach Glenn Moore’s Lady Bears begin the season ranked 10th in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll and 12th in the ESPN/USA Softball poll. In the Big 12, conference coaches picked the Lady Bears to finish second, behind only Oklahoma (the two-time defending national champions). Baylor’s top-10 nod marks the third time in the last six years (and the fifth time in program history) that the Lady Bears have been ranked among the preseason top 10.
This year’s squad returns many of the key performers whose contributions spurred the Lady Bears to their fourth Women’s College World Series appearance. Outfielder Kyla Walker, a preseason USA Softball Top 50 watch list selection, begins her junior season with a .417 career batting average — the highest in program history. Senior Jessie Scroggins heads into her final season after earning the first Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award in program history. Senior Shelby Friudenberg and sophomore Shelby McGlaun both return after tying for the team lead with 11 homers last season.
In the circle, junior pitcher Gia Rodoni will serve as staff ace. She finished her sophomore campaign with an 18-4 record and a memorable postseason run that included two no-hitters in the regional round.
Those returning student-athletes will be joined by five freshmen and an impressive trio of SEC transfers.
The Lady Bears were named a “team to watch” in the NCAA’s season preview, and Baylor fans can do just that starting this Friday at 6 p.m., when Baylor opens the season with Northwestern State at Getterman Stadium.
Sic ’em, Baylor softball!