Kansas Comeback Rally Falls Short in Season Opener Against UTM, 6-4
Feb. 10, 2012
HAMMOND, La.- Kansas erased a 2-0 deficit with a pair of impressive home runs, but Tennessee-Martin rallied back to defeat the Jayhawks, 6-4, in game one of the Southeastern Lion Classic Friday night.
Nearly six hours after Kansas softball was slated to open its season, the Jayhawks finally took the field to falling temperatures as the area’s heavy rain subsided. Kansas (0-1) faced an early deficit after UTM (1-0) struck first with two runs in the bottom of the second off of Jayhawk starter Morgan Druhan. Although KU would hang for runs using a combination of runs and speed, the Skyhawks would tack up three more run in the sixth and seventh innings to steal the win.
Power at the plate kept the Jayhawks in it during their 2012 debut, as Kansas used the two home runs to nix the early deficit. Freshman catcher Lexi Bryant teed off to left in her first career at bat, while redshirt senior Liz Kocon’s two-run shot gave Kansas the lead in the bottom of fourth. Sophomore center fielder Elsa Moyersprinted home on a groundball to the right side to account for all four of the Jayhawks’ runs.
Five players made their first start for Kansas on Friday night. Aside from Bryant and Druhan, freshmen Maddie Stein and Chanin Naudin started in right field and third base, respectively.
In the circle, Druhan earned the opening day start but received the no decision after allowing two earned runs a off of four hits and four walks. Sophomore Kristin Martinez highlighted the Jayhawk pitching performance, tossing 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. She did not give up a hit and struck out five, but also allowed four walks, which haunted the Jayhawks throughout the night. The three Jayhawk pitchers combined for 11 walks. Freshman Alicia Pille (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing four runs in the final two innings.
Bryant showed off her arm the first chance she got when she gunned out leadoff hitter Leah Taylor as she tried to swipe for the first out of the game. Druhan offset two more singles with a pair of strikeouts, stranding a runner on third to end the inning.
The Skyhawks got to Druhan, however, in their next at bat. Designated player Lydia Biggerstaff reached on an odd fielder’s choice play off the glove of Naudin. Naudin recovered and fired the ball to second for the lead out, but left Biggerstaff aboard to be replaced by a pinch runner. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases before Taylor’s sharp single back to Druhan plated the first run of the game. Although Druhan struck out the next batter she faced, she walked the following batter with the bases loaded to notch the Skyhawks’ second run and end her first outing as a Jayhawk.
Martinez came in to relieve the junior transfer in the circle, striking out the first batter she faced to leave the bases loaded. She went on to keep the Skyhawks scoreless for the next three innings, striking out five in the process.
After showing off her arm the first time the opportunity presented itself, Bryant made a bigger splash in her debut at the plate by cutting the UTM lead in half. The freshman from Illinois patiently worked a full count out of UTM starter Chelsea Jones (1-0), before unleashing a bomb to left field for KU’s first hit of the game – and Bryant’s first hit as a Jayhawk.
While Martinez was cruising in the circle, she received some offensive support from a familiar face. Kocon, KU’s home run leader from a year ago, smacked a two-run homer off the flag pole in centerfield to hand Kansas its first lead of the game, 3-2.
Moyer took advantage of a throwing error and sprinted for home when junior shortstop Mariah Montgomerydrilled a well-placed groundball to the right side, putting KU ahead, 4-2.
Martinez finished her 3.1 innings of scoreless relief in the top of the sixth before being lifted for Pille. The rookie struck out two, but surrendered three walks and two hits. One of her two strikeouts on the night was sandwiched by two wild pitches that let the tying and go-ahead runs score. An RBI single in the top of the seventh added a final insurance run for the Skyhawks as they spoiled the Jayhawks comeback rally, 6-4.
Friday, Feb. 10
vs. Tennessee-Martin: L, 4-6
vs. Troy: 9:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Feb. 11
vs. Jackson State: 3 p.m. CT
vs. Southeastern Louisiana: 5:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Feb. 12
vs. Northern Colorado: 10 a.m. CT