Milestone Day Lifts Kansas Over Wisconsin, 4-0
March 3, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. – It only seemed fitting that Kansas softball’s all-time RBI leader would drive in all four runs to power the Jayhawks past Big Ten foe Wisconsin, leading her team to its 15th-consecutive victory on day two of the Charleston Southern Tournament early Saturday morning.
Redshirt senior Liz Kocon entered the matchup with Wisconsin (6-6) in need of four RBIs to become KU’s career leader – and she got all four of them Saturday morning. The senior captain drove in the first run of the game for the 1-0 lead KU would cling to until the top of the fifth.
Three RBIs short of breaking the Kansas RBI record, previously held by Serena Settlemier, Kocon drilled a three-run homer to right centerfield. With one swing, Kocon took down the 2006 record and cemented the Jayhawks’ 4-0 win.
Kocon’s milestone helped the Jayhawks (15-2) continue its quest toward team history as the win over Wisconsin made 15 in a row. Only one other Jayhawk squad in program history has won more consecutive games (17, 1992).
Also on a winning streak, freshman Alicia Pille (7-2) chalked up her seventh victory in as many decisions. In her sixth complete game of the year, Pille was a rock. The rookie scattered four hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking two en route to her fifth shutout of 2012. Pille has not allowed a run in 16.0 innings.
The Jayhawks pounced early, working with two outs against them in the top of the first. A fielder’s choice decision on Maggie Hull’s sacrifice bunt had her on the base in time for Kocon’s march to RBI history. Kocon’s liner up the middle scored Hull to put Kansas up, 1-0.
Pille patiently waited on her offense, allowing just two base runners through the first three innings. The freshman gave up a single in the second and a walk in the third – her first free pass in 11.2 innings – but surrendered little else. By the end of the third, the Texan rookie had five strikeouts to her credit.
Her counterpart, Wisconsin starter Cassandra Darrah (4-3), took an early exit when Meghan McIntosh took over in relief at the top of the fourth. McIntosh gave up the bomb to Kocon before being replaced by the final reliever of the afternoon, Amanda Najdek.
Still holding the narrow 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, Pille came up clutch to keep the Jayhawks in front. A one-out single and stolen base from Wisconsin’s second baseman Whitney Massey put her on second. Another Pille strikeout brought up shortstop Stephanie Peace with two outs.
Peace and Pille battled through a 10-pitch at bat before Peace made contact. The Jayhawk defense made a fielder’s choice decision that ended with Badgers on second and third. Not rattled, Pille buckled down for her seventh strikeout of the game to end the threat.
Wisconsin would threaten again in its next trip to the plate with runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fifth but ground balls fielded by Pille herself and third baseman Chanin Naudin kept the shutout in tact. By the fifth inning, however, Pille and her defense had a much larger margin to work with – thanks to Kocon’s historical home run.
Pille and the Kansas defense shook off two Badger base runners and the onset of falling rain in the bottom of the seventh to seal the 4-0 win.
Kansas is scheduled to face Wisconsin again in the Charleston Southern Tournament Championship at 3 p.m. ET. With heavy rain in the area, stay tuned to weather updates on KUathletics.com and on Twitter (JayhawkSoftball).
Friday, March 2
vs. Connecticut, W, 8-0 (6)
vs. Charleston Southern, W, 6-3
Saturday, March 3
vs. Wisconsin, W, 4-0
vs. Wisconsin, Canceled
Sunday, March 4
vs. Connecticut, 12 p.m. CT