Softball Knocks Off No. 25 North Carolina 5-4 in Season Opener

Feb. 11, 2011

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Home runs from sophomores Mariah Montgomery and Rosie Hull in the first two innings of Kansas softball’s season opener proved to be enough as the Jayhawks’ knocked off No. 25 North Carolina 5-4 in the first game of the Jacksonville University Tournament Friday morning.

KU will play again in approximately 30 minutes when it takes on Buffalo at about 11:15 a.m.

Two freshmen made their collegiate debut in the contest including first baseman Kendra Cullum and shortstop Ashley Newman. Newman led KU with a 3-for-3 outing from the plate while junior Marissa Ingle and sophomore Alex Jones also recorded a hit.

The Jayhawks also received a strong outing from senior pitcher Allie Clark, who tossed the first four and two thirds innings and earned the win. Freshman Kristin Martinez pitched the final two and a third innings in scoreless relief allowing just one of UNC’s seven hits.

“This was huge but we take it one game at a time and we’re ready for the next game,” said second-year head coach Megan Smith, who faced her alma mater and former coach. “I’m proud of the young kids who stepped up big time for us. We made it interesting but luckily in the end we pulled it through. Gutsy performance by Kristin Martinez and obviously Mariah Montgomery and Rosie Hull came up big for us.”

Montgomery got the Kansas offense started early bringing in the team’s first two runs with a home run, the sixth of her career, over the left field fence. Montgomery scored Alex Jones who had reached base on a single.

Hull, playing designated player, wasted little time adding to the scoreboard as she launched her first career homer into a palm tree in right field bringing in three more runs to put the Jayhawks up 5-0.

Despite getting off to a hot start, Kansas’ offense cooled in the final innings collecting just two more hits in the contest and one walk.

North Carolina in the meantime found its stride from the batter’s box and broke up a no hitter in the top of fourth with a pair of singles to score its first run. The Tar Heels tacked on three more runs in the top of the fifth inning on four hits to come within one of the Jayhawks, 5-4.

KU’s defense went three-up, three-down in the sixth and then fought off a threat in the final inning. UNC led off the frame with a single and advanced to second on throwing error by senior catcher Brittany Hile. A sacrifice bunt then moved the runner to third, but Martinez struck out her next batter swinging and forced a foul pop fly to Cullum, who made a diving catch to end the game.

The win is KU’s first over a ranked opponent since the Jayhawks defeated No. 23 Baylor last season on April 11.