Lady Bears Breeze Through Hempstead Regional

Team returns home to host Super Regional

May 20, 2007

By Matt Chaprales

Special to CSTV.com

 

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Baylor had a lot to play for on Sunday, and it showed.

 

Behind strong pitching from Lisa Ferguson and a big offensive day from Ashley Monceaux, the No. 8 Lady Bears captured the Hempstead Regional with a 10-0, five-inning win over Albany.

 

The team is now headed home to Waco, TX, where it will host a Super Regional on Memorial Day weekend, with a trip to the College World Series on the line.  


 

 

 

"We felt like we worked hard on the road to bring our fans another weekend of softball," said coach Glenn Moore of the Bears' effort.

 

Playing Albany on bookends of the regional, the Bears once again wasted no time establishing a lead, as Monceaux led off the game with a single and scored on Chelsi Lake's sacrifice fly.

 

That was all Ferguson needed as she effectively mixed her pitches and had consistent command of the strike zone, giving up only one hit over four innings, striking out four and walking none.

 

"Coach [Britni Sneed] Newman was calling a good variety of pitches and I was just trying to keep Albany off-balance," said Ferguson. "I knew my job was to just focus and go pitch by pitch and hit my spots and our defense would do the work and we did just that."

 

The Baylor defense was sound the entire weekend, committing only one error in three games.  The Great Danes couldn't say the same.

 

After Monceaux padded the lead in the top of the fourth with a two-run double, the wheels came off for Albany.  As was the case on Friday against Baylor, poor defense led to their demise.

 

A dropped pop fly by second basemen Michelle Connors and a wild pitch by Leah McIntosh gave the Bears a couple of gift runs in the fifth.  The miscues allowed Monceaux to come up again and she made Albany pay, crushing a two-run home run to dead center field to push the lead to ten. 

 

"We made some big mistakes and prolonged a big inning," said Albany coach Chris Cannata. "They're a great team and when you give them four and five outs in an inning they're going to score big runs, that's kind of what happened."

 

Monceaux finished 3-4 with 4 RBI and two runs on the day, leading a Baylor team that is no stranger to big games in the NCAAs.  Albany, conversely, just yesterday won its first two NCAA Tournament games in the program's history.   

 

"Obviously we didn't play as well as we wanted to today, but we're really happy being in the finals," said Cannata. "It was a big step for our program."

 

Even though Baylor beat them handily twice this weekend, Moore was quick to note that both games were battles and Albany did its fair share of beating itself.

 

"I just felt Albany came ready to play," said Moore. "I was really proud of our girls for not taking them for granted.  [The game] was nip and tuck for a while; [McIntosh] was throwing well.  We were not distracted and kept the pressure on until they broke."

 

Moore went on to stress his team's focus throughout the weekend.  He had made it no secret that he believed Baylor deserved to host the regional as opposed to travel cross-country. 

 

Yet after a weekend in which the Lady Bears outscored their opponents by a combined 25-4, their approach was clearly all business.  Now they return home a confident team, a team ready to make a run at the school's first College World Series under their seventh-year head coach.

 

To advance to Oklahoma City, site of the 2007 College World Series, Baylor will have to defeat No. 9 Michigan. 

 

The Lady Bears know the path is laid out favorably.

 

"It's no greater feeling than playing at home in front of your home crowd," said Monceaux. "I think it will be a good setup for us to get to the World Series."