Holl’s 13th-inning homer lifts Baylor
Bears make semis, spoil 19 K outing from Missouri’s Thomas
OKLAHOMA CITY -- With Whitney Canion putting an endless line of zeros on the scoreboard and unlikely heroes providing extra-inning homers, the Baylor Bears are getting just enough to stay alive in the Women's College World Series.
|All You Need to Know About the WCWS|
|The WCWS Field | Predicting the Winners|
Features: Big 12 Power? | Moultrie's Rise
Cal's Proud Perspective | Students of the Game
|Notebooks: Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday|
|Softball's Home Field|
|Division I Championship History|
|National Team and Individual Leaders|
Holly Holl lined a shot over the left-field fence with two outs in the 13th inning, lifting Baylor to a 1-0 victory against Big 12 rival Missouri early Sunday in the Women's College World Series.
Holl smashed an 0-2 pitch from Chelsea Thomas (32-8) just over the top of the wall to end the marathon that was nearly twice as long as a typical softball game.
"It was old-fashioned pitchers' duel, the way you love them -- unless you're ready to go to sleep," Baylor coach Glenn Moore said after it finally ended.
Whitney Canion (31-11) allowed only two singles while going the distance for Baylor (47-14), which has scored its only two runs at the World Series on game-ending homers in extra innings.
"Towards the end of the game, I just kind of started laughing," Canion said. "This is so fun. Playing at this level and in the World Series, this is what it's supposed to be like.
"I love pitchers’ duels. I know everyone wants to see a ton of home runs."
Thomas struck out a career-high 19 -- one shy of the World Series record -- before finally giving up Holl's second homer on her 283rd pitch of the day. Thomas already had thrown a complete game to stave off elimination for the Tigers. She threw 91 pitches in that 4-1 win against Oklahoma, then 192 in her second outing.
"I honestly didn't know what inning it was after the game," Thomas said.
By the end, Thomas said she was simply running on adrenaline.
"I'm just so proud of her in so many different ways," Mizzou coach Ehren Earleywine said. "She knows that tonight wasn't her fault. We didn't hit. She pitched brilliant. One of the best pitching performances I've ever seen."
Baylor survives to face top-seeded Arizona State in the semifinals Sunday. Florida, which beat California 5-2 on Saturday, meets No. 2 seed Alabama on the other side of the bracket. Baylor and Florida each need to win twice to reach the best-of-three finals, while the other teams get two chances to win once.
With Canion and Thomas dominating, neither team got a runner past second base in the first seven innings. Baylor finally got a runner to third in the eighth, when Kathy Shelton reached on a chopper to shortstop and raced all the way to third on Megan Turk's bunt single. But Thomas sent slugger Dani Leal down swinging to end the threat.
"For Whitney to hold a team like Missouri to two hits is nothing short of amazing and why she's an All-American -- and Chelsea Thomas as well," Moore said. "We weren't even getting runners to second base."
The Tigers got their own chance in the eighth, when Nicole Hudson got to second on Leal's two-base throwing error. Canion intentionally walked cleanup hitter Ashley Fleming, then got Maddison Ruggeberg to foul out. Rhea Taylor smashed a potential go-ahead liner in the top of the 13th, but first baseman Holl snared it and stranded Lisa Simmons at second.
Then she ended it with her drive in the bottom half.
"Whatever she was going to throw me, I was probably going to swing at it," Holl said. "I wasn't going down looking again."
The Bears' only tally in the World Series until then came on a game-ending homer by Kelsi Kettler in the eighth inning of their opening win against Oklahoma State. It was also only the second homer of the season for Kettler.