COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Lehigh kept itself in the game with a strong defensive showing, but Baylor’s Whitney Canion fired a two-hitter and struck out 15 to lead the Bears to a 4-0 win over the Mountain Hawks in the opening game of the NCAA College Park Regional Friday at Taylor Stadium. Kathy Shelton had a pair of RBI singles for the Bears who move into the winner’s bracket with a 41-12 record, while Lehigh falls to 33-22.
Canion limited Lehigh to just five base runners en route to her fifth shutout of the season. She allowed just a second inning single to center by junior Tenley Halaquist and a seventh inning leadoff single by sophomore Liz Lucas. Canion did hit two Mountain Hawks and when Lehigh advanced a runner to second base for the only time in the game, the Bears ace got junior Julie Fernandez to ground out to first to the threat.
Defensively, the Mountain Hawks played a near flawless game behind sophomore Rebecca Bliss. Halaquist started 4-6-3 double plays that ended first and third innings. Sophomore Rosie Roessel made a great sliding catch in left center to end the fifth, while Alex Cueva tumbled into the Baylor dugout to reel in a foul pop-up in the sixth.
"Our defense was outstanding," said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. "We turned a couple of double plays. Every play we could possibly make defensively we did make and we made a couple exceptional plays, like Alex Cueva going into the dugout, showing that this game was important to her, and Rosie made a great play in centerfield as well."
Baylor went in front with three runs on five hits in the bottom of the second inning. A one-out double for Holly Holl and a single by Canion put runners at the corners for Shelbi Redfearn, who doubled down the right field line to bring Holl home with the game’s first run. Two batters later, K.J. Freeland singled to right to score Makenzie Robinson with the Bears second run and Shelton followed with an infield single off Bliss to plate Baylor’s third run.
"They’re a pretty good team from a hitting perspective," said Troyan. "They did a good job and put some hits together. It’s tough to keep them off the scoreboard. Becca made a couple mistakes which Baylor made her pay for, but overall I thought she pitched a pretty good game."
Sophomore Becca Bliss earned the start for Lehigh vs. No. 11 Baylor.
Bliss hit Redfearn with a pitch to open the bottom of the fourth and with two outs; Shelton singled her home to give the Bears their four-run advantage. Lehigh’s sophomore right-hander falls to 16-7 with the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings. Bliss walked one and did not strike out a batter. Canion improves to 25-9 with the win for Baylor.
The Mountain Hawks will now face Maryland in an elimination contest Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. The Terrapins fell 5-1 to East Carolina Friday night. A win would move Lehigh into another elimination game at 5 p.m. against the ECU-Baylor loser, while a loss would end the Mountain Hawks’ season. All of Lehigh’s Saturday NCAA Regional action can be heard online for free at Lehighsports.com. Pregame coverage on Saturday begins at 2:15.