Kansas Outlasts Michigan State, 1-0
March 8, 2013
BOCA RATON, Fla. – After six and a half scoreless innings, sophomore third baseman Chanin Naudin drilled a double to right centerfield in the bottom of the seventh. Two wild pitches later, Naudin sprinted home for the winning run over Michigan State, 1-0, at the FAU Invitational Friday night.
Friday evening saw a pitcher’s duel break out between Kansas (16-5) and Michigan State (13-10). KU sophomore Alicia Pille (6-3) and MSU junior Kelly Smith (10-5) kept each offense quiet through six full innings.
Pille went one further, ending the night with her 11th career shutout and third of the season. The sophomore surrendered just three hits, walked none and struck out five, which moved her onto the Kansas top-10 career strikeout list (249). The Royse City, Texas native surpassed former Jayhawk Beth Robinson (1994-96, 247) to move to No. 10 in program history.
“What a fun game,” head coach Megan Smith said. “Two great pitchers battled it out and I’m really proud of the way Alicia Pille and how she fought the entire game. She was in control the whole time and her defense backed her up. What a fun game to be a part of.”
Naudin provided the only run Pille needed in the Jayhawks last trip to the plate and led the team with her 2-for-3 effort. The only KU hitter to post multiple hits in the contest, both of her hits were doubles. Senior left fielder Maggie Hull went 1-for-2 with a walk, while fellow senior captain Mariah Montgomery ended a 13-game hitting streak.
Senior outfielder Kylene Hopkins, one of the players on the USA Softball Player of the Year Top-50 Watch List, led the Spartans with a 2-for-3 performance. First baseman McKinzie Freimuth was the only other MSU batter to record a hit off of Pille.
After surrendering a leadoff single, Pille retired nine-consecutive Spartans until an error put a runner on in the top of the fourth. The base runner amounted to nothing and the Kansas starter went on to toss a 1-2-3 fifth inning.
Opposite her, Smith kept the Jayhawks quiet as well. In the bottom of the third, Maggie Hull drew a two-out walk and sophomore designated player Maddie Stein joined her on base with a single, but with runners on the corners Smith left each of them there and the shutout continued.
In the bottom of the fifth, Naudin looked to break up the shutout when she launched a leadoff double to left center. Junior second baseman Ashley Newman, redshirt junior centerfielder Alex Jones and Maggie Hull ripped consecutive line drives – but all went directly to Spartan fielders to keep the Jayhawks from scoring.
The Kansas defense countered in the sixth when consecutive singles to left put two on with one out. Pille went two work, coming back from a 3-0 count to get a strikeout and followed that with a pop up to center to wrap up her sixth scoreless inning.
Down to the final inning, Pille sat the Spartans in the top of the seventh to have Naudin, Jones and Maggie Hull due up in the bottom half of the frame. Naudin came through with the clutch double and moved to third on a wild pitch Jones, who stepped in to take an intentional walk. While attempting to give Jones the free pass, Smith let the second wild pitch get away from her.
This time, it sailed into the dugout to automatically let Naudin advance. She came home for the unorthodox walk-off win.
Kansas plays back-to-back games on Saturday, facing Ball State at 4 p.m. CT and host team Florida Atlantic at approximately 6 p.m. CT.
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