There may not be a more potent offense in the TSSAA in 2012 than that of Baylor's Lady Red Raiders. There isn't much they can't do, and there isn't much they didn't do Thursday.
On what's steadily becoming a routine performance for them, the Lady Raiders defeated Division II-AA East/Middle Region rival GPS 10-4 at GPS, rapping out 13 hits with six of them for extra bases.
Going 13-for-31 (.419) as a team is nothing more than the status quo lately for Baylor (17-2), which has scored at least 10 runs in seven of its last nine games. In that stretch was a 4-3 international-tiebreaker loss to GPS last weekend in Soddy-Daisy's Lady Trojan Invitational.
It was a different story in the league opener for both teams.
"This team is capable of hitting the ball very well," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "We're hitting over .400 as a team. We are a power-hitting team. This team has power and speed in the lineup. In my 10 years as a head coach, this is the most power and the most speed I've had."
The top two in Baylor's order were a combined 0-for-8, but the Nos. 5 through 9 batters were a combined 11-for-17 with six RBIs. Among them, Kelsie Clark had a home run and Precious Birdsong had a triple. Maya Mathis doubled twice, Cassi Pickett had a double and Lauren Lewis drove in the game's first two runs with a double in the third inning.
"There's a fine line trying to pitch to them," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "If you get too fine, you walk people and get behind in counts. But if you throw the ball across much of the plate, they're going to mash it. They did a pretty good job of that today.
"To beat them you've got to hit with them. They wore it out. There's no other way to put it."
The Bruisers managed nine hits, but only Kelby Crownover's two-RBI double that pulled them within three in the bottom of the sixth wasn't a single. Five hits were in the fifth, but they stranded two that inning and Lewis threw a runner out at the plate from right field.
Through four innings, Kaitie Sims was cruising along with a one-hit shutout, including a walk and two strikeouts, and had retired nine on groundouts.
"It wasn't that Kaitie was throwing the ball poorly. But after you've seen a pitcher a couple of times through the lineup, sometimes changing the pitcher can change the flow of the game," Smith said of why she brought in Sarah Moore with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Lewis led the Lady Raiders with three hits. Noelle Winkles, Pickett, Clark, Mathis and Birdsong each had two.
Crownover went 3-for-3 and Katy Richardson went 2-for-4 for GPS (11-6, 0-1).
The teams could meet again this weekend in Ooltewah's Choo Choo Lady Owls Classic at The Summit of Softball Complex. The other region game between them is scheduled at Baylor on May 8.
"The way it's set up, everybody goes to the playoffs," Coach Crownover said. "These games affect travel. This puts an emphasis on how we play when we play the teams out of Nashville."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.