Kansas Storms Back Against Tournament Host Charlotte in 9-6 Win
Feb. 17, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kansas churned out 16 hits, the most in the Megan Smith era, to fuel a thrilling seventh-inning comeback, wrapping up day one with a win over the Charlotte Classic host, 9-6.
The Jayhawks (5-2) brought a 5-2 lead into the top of the sixth before Charlotte (2-3) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning to reclaim the lead with only three outs to play. But Kansas, who scored in each of the last five innings, refused to go down quietly and answered with a four-spot of its own in the top of the seventh to steal the win.
Kansas’ 16 hits in the win marked the most by a Jayhawk lineup since a 15-hit game against North Dakota State on March 8, 2009 – the year prior to Smith’s arrival.
“After the first game, I thought we were flat offensively so I challenged the team to lock in and have better at bats,” Smith said. “As a result of better at bats, we had better outcomes. I thought they did a really great job of battling and being aggressive. Luckily, the results came and we’re happy with that.”
Freshman Alicia Pille (3-2) started – and ended – the second matchup of the day, racking up six strikeouts, walking one and allowing two runs. Junior Morgan Druhan took over in relief in the fourth inning and allowed four runs while striking out three before Pille re-entered the game in sixth. She would stay in to pick up her fifth decision in as many appearances.
The Hull twins provided the offensive force in the second game of the day. Maggie and Rosie Hull combined for a 7-for-9 performance with two RBIs apiece and five runs scored. Maggie posted a career-best four hits and finished a home run short of the cycle, while Rosie went 3-for-4, including her second career home run.
Junior shortstop Mariah Montgomery knocked in a team-high three RBIs on a 3-for-5 effort. Freshmen Cassen Salamone and Maddie Stein also racked up multi-hit showings at the plate.
“We talked to them a lot about pressure situations and there were a lot of them in this game,” Smith said. “We had several different players step up and execute in those pressure situations – not just the upper classmen, but also people like Maddie Stein, who is a freshman, and didn’t start but was ready to go when her name was called. Mariah (Montgomery) came through and Maggie (Hull) had a great day. I can’t say enough about Rosie Hull, who hadn’t started a game until today, but was locked in and ready to go.”
For the second-straight game, a hustle play from junior captain Maggie Hull sparked the Jayhawks. In the first game of the day, Hull slid under a tag at the plate during a five-run first frame. By game two, Hull hadn’t lost any steam as she took off for home on a groundball to the first baseman from Montgomery. Although the Charlotte defense attempted a throw home to get her out, Hull slid head first under the tag for the first run of the game.
Her sister, Rosie, capitalized on her first start in right field in 2012. After the 49ers took the 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third, Hull cranked a Lexi Betancourt delivery over the left centerfield wall to knot the game, 2-2. In the following inning, she came through in another RBI opportunity to give her team the lead – and extended the lead when she scored on an RBI by Stein.
While Druhan kept the home team off the board through the fourth and fifth innings, the Jayhawks diligently added to their lead in each inning building up to the comfortable 6-2 cushion in the sixth.
A leadoff walk started the 49ers big inning in the bottom of the sixth. Although Druhan sat the next batter down on strikes, she surrendered a second walk and an RBI double to spark Charlotte’s rally. A two-RBI single from freshman right fielder Samantha Slade tied the game and an RBI single by freshman Alex Rogers chased Druhan from the game as Charlotte took the 6-5 lead. Pille came back to finish the inning with a strikeout and give her team another at bat.
Kansas ran with the opportunity.
Stein drove a single to left to lead off the inning and Salamone’s speed prompted a throwing error, putting them both on board for Maggie Hull’s two-run triple – her first triple of the year. Redshirt senior Liz Kocon’s RBI groundout brought her within five of the all-time Kansas career record, bringing home Hull in the process. Montgomery topped off the brilliant offensive display with a bomb to centerfield, completing the four-run seventh.
“It’s tough (to come back after a home-team rally), but we stayed calm,” Smith said. “With us, it sometimes takes a little bit of a spark and Maddie (Stein) provided that in the seventh. Charlotte is a great team and is very talented offensively and I was very impressed with how they played the game. We’re very happy with the win.”
Pille chalked up two more strikeouts in the bottom of the inning to finalize the Jayhawks’ fifth-straight win, 9-6.
Friday, Feb. 17
vs. Middle Tennessee State, W 7-3
vs. Charlotte, W, 9-6
Saturday, Feb. 18
vs. Stony Brook, 9 a.m. CT
vs. Bracket Play Decision, TBA
Sunday, Feb. 19
vs. Bracket Play Decision, TBA