SB wins National Invitational Softball Championship over UNLV, 4-0

By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Whether Glenn Moore asked, Aliyah Binford might even try his hand at the catcher.
Picking up the win in each of Baylor Softball’s four games at the National Invitational Softball Championship, the sophomore was at his best in Thursday’s championship game at TC Colorado Field, pitching a two-hit complete game with nine outs. at bat to lead the Bears to a 4-0 win over UNLV.
“She’s an amazing athlete. She can do so much,” Moore said of Binford, who also played shortstop and third base. “We ask her to do a lot, but she has matured, whereas a few years ago I think she might not have been as open to doing everything as she is now. She wants the ball, she wants to kick and she can run. She’s definitely had a really good year and is on her way to having an amazing junior year, I think, after this tournament.”
Named tournament MVP, Binford (13-6) pitched all but 4 2/3 innings in Baylor’s four games and hit .364 (4 for 11) with a double, leading her fifth homer of the season of the team and a .727 hitting percentage.
“Everybody’s in a little sore this time of year,” Moore said, “but she’s got bumps and bruises and a sore knee. And we just saw a lot of heart from her. Her last at the stick, she took that third take on the outside. I’m never comfortable with a four-point lead. At the same time, I didn’t really want her on base. I wanted her in the dugout and sheltered from the sun.
Not starting a senior in Thursday’s game, the Bears ended the tournament’s impressive run with their fourth straight win and ended a disappointing season on a high note, joining previous NISC winners Lamar (2017), Loyola Marymount (2018) and UT-Arlington (2019).
“I think that was exactly what this young team needed,” Moore said. “I’ve never known of winning the last game either, so it’s a cool way to come out and motivate them for 2023. That was the whole point of it was to get a few extra days of work and some extra work. ‘trying to get better.’ The competition was the exclamation point at the end.
Facing just three batters over the minimum, Binford took a no-hitter in the fifth before giving up two-out singles from Samantha Diaz in the fifth and Ariana Martinez in the seventh.
The Bears wasted no time getting up the board, scoring two runs on four hits in the top of the first inning and earning RBI singles by Emilie Hott and Josie Bower. UNLV (43-15) got a combined hit from Jasmine Martin and Jenny Bressler in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over North Alabama.
“I was hoping we would throw the first punch, especially after we had to come back (in a 5-4 semifinal win over Kansas),” Moore said. “(UNLV is) a powerful team, around 60 homers and a decent schedule as well. So we knew what they were capable of. And the ball flies out of here. So, I wasn’t comfortable with a two-point lead. But the more I saw (Binford) throwing, the more I was in the mindset that they were going to have trouble with her.
And the Rebels did, getting their first base runner on a pitching error in the second. Binford then struck out nine straight before Diaz’s two-out hit in the fifth.
Baylor threatened just about every inning, getting a two-out triple per Kaci West in the third and charging in the fourth with a Binford brace and two walks. But, it remained a 2-0 game until the fifth, when Bower delivered a two-run brace against UNLV ace Bressler.
West went 3-for-4 and scored two runs to lead Baylor’s nine-hit offense, while Bower was 2-for-4 and drove in three runs. The NISC All-Tournament Team included West, Ana Watson and McKenzie Wilsonwho was 8 for 15 in the tournament and finished his second season with a .424 batting average.
“We didn’t know we were going to win this thing,” Moore said. “We intended to do this, but we knew Virginia was pretty good, UNLV, and we had already been beaten by Kansas. We had to figure out how to win ball games.
“I bet there were eight to 10 games that we let slip this year that we controlled in the fifth or sixth innings, and we couldn’t wrap it up. I think we figured out how to do that this week. , and we had fun doing it. I certainly think it accomplished everything we hoped for.

THE SUMMARY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Baylor Softball dominated the final game of the National Invitational Softball Championship, shutting out UNLV 4-0 on Thursday to win the league title at TC Colorado Field.


The Bears started strong, totaling four singles in the first inning and scoring two runs. McKenzie Wilson scored the first run of the game after starting the game with a single down the middle and scoring on a hit of Emilie Hott. Kaci West also came to score after Josie Bower also hit one in the middle.



Aliyah Binford pitched a whirlwind game, going 7.0 complete innings, shutting out the Rebels and striking out nine. She only allowed three base runners all game on two singles and an error.


Baylor charged in the fourth inning, after Binford doubled and Zadie La Vallee and Wilson drew rides. A groundout ended the threat, but the Bears managed to tackle two more in the fifth inning.


After Hott walked and West scored a single, Bower doubled to left center to give the Bears the 4-0 advantage.


A few runners replaced Baylor in the sixth and seventh innings, but four runs were enough for the Bears to win the title game at the fourth annual NISC tournament.


The Bears also won four tournament prizes, awarded after the game. Binford won the tournament MVP title, while Ana WatsonWest and Wilson earned All-Tournament accolades.



STRONG POINTS

  • Aliyah Binford threw his third complete shutout this season. She struck out nine, allowing just two hits
  • Kaci West was 3 for 4, reaching base in seven of his last eight at bats
  • Josie Bower recorded two team-leading hits and three RBIs
  • Six Bears recorded success
  • It’s the 12 of the Bearsand shutout this season
  • Bears win 4and Annual National Invitational Softball Championship
  • Aliyah Binford Won Tournament MVP
  • McKenzie Wilson, Ana Watson and Kaci West were named to the All-Tournament Team

BEST QUOTES
Glenn Moore on the game…

“I’m so proud of this team. They never deviated from their mission. All training was intentionally tough with heavy workloads. We were determined to compete at our highest level, and we did. We had to call on some people to do things with them that they didn’t have to, and they rose to the challenge. The future looks bright for this team. Kendall (Cross) and Rhein (Trochim) will be missed, but I can’t wait for the fall.

– BaylorBears.com –

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