Kansas Comes Back to Top Florida International, 6-3

Feb. 8, 2013

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Kansas 6, Florida International 3
FIU Softball Complex // Miami, Fla.
Freshman Kelsey Kessler made her collegiate debut on Friday, striking out two and scattering two runs over five innings of work.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
KU 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 6 13 0
FIU 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 9 0
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Leaders – Batting
A. Hugo 4 2 3 4 0 2
E. Moyer 4 1 3 0 0 0
Florida Int.
A. Lopez 4 1 2 2 0 1
J. Alfonso 3 0 2 0 0 0
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
K. Kessler 5.0 5 2 2 3 4
A. Pille (W, 2-0) 2.0 4 1 1 1 1
Florida Int.
M. Dawson 4.2 9 2 2 2 2
S. Graves (L, 0-1) 2.1 4 4 4 1 1

MIAMI, Fla. – With two outs and two strikes against her, freshman catcher Alex Hugo connected on her second home run of the game, breaking the tie and handing the Jayhawks the 6-3 victory against Florida International in the final matchup of Kansas softball’s opening day, Friday afternoon at the FIU Softball Complex.

Like the first game of the day, Kansas (2-0) had not previously faced Florida International (0-1), but their first meeting played into a well-contested match up. After taking an early 1-0 lead, the Jayhawks found themselves trailing once and tied twice before putting the game away with the clutch long ball in the last inning.

“We’re fighters – that’s what we do,” head coach Megan Smith said. “We work extremely hard, and the girls never quit and you saw that tonight. That was big, big hit from Alex Hugo, which is huge for a freshman. I said she was going to be a special player and she was today.”

Five different Jayhawks collected multiple hit in the win, but Hugo shined above the rest with two home runs, a double and four RBIs. She became the first Jayhawk freshman to drill two homers in a game – her first as a Jayhawk – since Maddie Stein did so last year against Iowa State (4/21/12).

Junior centerfielder Elsa Moyer went 3-for-4 for the second three-hit game of her career, while redshirt junior right fielder Alex Jones, junior designated player Ashley Newman and senior second baseman Mariah Montgomery each collected two hits.

Making her Jayhawk debut, freshman pitcher Kelsey Kessler threw five solid innings as the starter, allowing two runs off of five hits. She struck out four and walked three in the start before coming out before the bottom of the sixth with Kansas leading, 3-2. Sophomore Alicia Pille (2-0) took over in the bottom of the sixth and earned her second win of the day, allowing one run on four hits with a strikeout.

“Kessler gave up a big hit on a bad pitch, but was mentally tough enough to come back and give us some great innings after that. Then we brought in Pille just to show them a different look because they were a great offensive team and she fought through and got it done. We’re excited about both of them.”

Kansas again got its offense rolling early, using a Stein RBI to drive in Jones in the top of the first. The home team, however, came out ready as well as freshman catcher Aleim Lopez drilled a two-run homer.

Trailing 2-1, Kessler worked to keep the Panthers off the board for the remainder of her stay. After Hugo’s first homer tied the game in the top of the second, Kessler worked around base hits in the fourth and fifth to allow her offense the chance to take over – and it did.

With two outs, senior left fielder Maggie drilled a two-out double to score Moyer and take the 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth. Although the Panthers would tie it up in the next at bat, Hugo’s second homer would prove to be even more clutch than the first as her three-run shot put the Jayhawks ahead for good.

Still fighting, FIU led off the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back singles, but Moyer tracked down a fly ball in center before Pille ended the game with a strikeout.

Kansas will face Georgetown at 9 a.m. CT before getting into bracket play Saturday afternoon.

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