The Baylor Bears are preseason ranked 18th in the ESPN poll and 22nd in the coaches poll and have recently released their action packed 2021 schedule. The Bears will open their season the second weekend in February at Lamson Park facing Missouri State and then facing preseason #9 ULL Ragin Cajuns. Head Coach Glenn Moore is in his 21st season leading the Bears and is “More appreciative than ever for the game of softball and Baylor University.“
The shortened 2020 season was a good one for the Bears as they were 19-5, surpassing the wins total from the prior year, defeating ranked opponents: Auburn, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Florida State. As fans look to this 2021 team they should expect a talented squad with lots of depth. Two freshmen have stuck out to Coach Moore, Sydney Collazos and Zadie Lavalley, “these are two of the best catchers we have had in our program, Sydney will get the nod early on and Zadie has a great arm, these two will turn some heads.” Maren Judisch, a freshmen pitcher from Iowa, has been training under Rich Thomas, the father of three-time All-American and Missouri Softball record holder in wins, Chelsea Thomas. “He has molded her into a pitcher and she has a lot of the same great qualities Chelsea had, we expect that she will move into a role of a very effective pitcher for us,” Moore said.
Just as the fall was different for every NCAA team this year, Baylor Softball had to tailor their routine and schedule as well. “We made it clear we were not trying to become a team per say in the fall, our goal was to let our players know they were competing for playing time and make it as competitive as possible,” Moore said. In the years past Baylor has played LSU in the fall and used this as a gauge to how they are prepared for the year, having not been able to play them Moore and his staff had to place an emphasis on pitching and challenging his hitters. Along with the effects of Covid 19 Baylor Softball lost one of its family members and coaches, Mark Lumley on December 27, 2020.
At the helm of one of the winningest and most tradition rich programs in the country NFCA Hall of Famer Jo Evans looks to lead her Aggies back to OKC. The maroon and white saw success in 2017 going 47-13 and ending their season at the WCWS. Evans, one of the winningest active Division 1 coaches in the game today, with over 1,200 wins, will face one of her biggest challenges yet, coaching during a global pandemic. Along with coaching during Covid-19 the Aggies face away SEC series at LSU, Alabama, and Florida.
Facing a fall like never before the Aggies had to adjust just as every other NCAA team has. Finding themself limited to only intrasquad games Coach Evans had to get creative. “The silver lining about Covid was weren’t allowed to play outside opponents and so with this huge roster of 27 people everyone got lots of reps and lots of playing time,” Evans said. They decided to run their games based on a point system similar to that of the new professional league Athletes Unlimited This system rewards players based on in game performance, meaning each inning is with 10 points and each game is worth 50 points. Evans wanted to run games like AU to put an emphasis on the importance of each at bat, pitch and inning.
The Aurburn Tigers have burst on the scene the past several years, making trip to the WCWS in 2015 and 2016, and in his fourth season at Auburn Mickey Dean has his tigers eyes set on returning back to Oklahoma City. They were on their way in the 2019-20 season as they started the season 16-11with wins over Notre Dame, #25 Northwestern and #18 Minnesota. That was until COVID-19 halted and ultimately ended the season. Dean recalls getting the call during the middle of a mid-week home game informing him the NCAA was shutting things down and ultimately sending all students home. Dean tried to use this a teaching moment to his student athletes, about life and that things are unexpected while encouraging them play every game as their last.