Hull's Walk-Off Sends Kansas Past Saint Mary's, 3-1
March 15, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Moments after redshirt junior Alex Jones took a pitch off the top of her head, senior left fielder Maggie Hull picked up KU’s starting pitcher with a walk-off home run to defeat Saint Mary’s College, 3-1, in the bottom of the seventh in game two of the Capital Classic, Friday afternoon.
It seemed fitting that Jones (6-0), would score the first of the two winning runs for Kansas (20-6). The redshirt junior had a career day, striking out a personal-best 11 batters to muscle past Saint Mary’s College (4-17). The Enid, Okla., native allowed four hits and walked none in her seven-inning complete game effort.
“We’re really proud of AJ (Alex Jones), how she threw and how she fought back after giving up a big hit in the seventh,” head coach Megan Smith said. “We’re proud of the way that she fought. (As a team) we showed some fight in the last game, but I don’t think we had it enough today. It was too close of a game.”
Hull had already extended her hit streak to 12 games with a single in the first inning, but her more exciting plays came when she scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the fifth and the final run in the bottom of the seventh. Her two RBIs and two runs scored moved her into sole possession in both categories on KU’s all-time career lists with 128 RBIs and 125 runs.
“She had been hitting the ball hard, it was just a matter of time for her,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things that if you stay patient and stick to the game plan, then it’ll work and it did for Maggie today.”
Freshman catcher Alex Hugo also posted a two-hit performance, going 2-for-2 with a walk, while fellow rookie Chaley Brickey tallied the only other hit for the Jayhawks.
In the opposite dugout, senior starter Jessica Lemmon (1-5) took the loss for the Gaels, giving up three runs – two earned – in her complete game effort. A solid pitching display from both teams, Lemmon gave up five hits, while KU’s Jones surrendered four.
Jones got rolling the top of the first, striking out the side to set the tone for her stellar outing. She struck out six of the first seven batters she faced before a blooper fell behind shortstop for the Gaels’ first hit of the game in the third.
While Jones cruised through the first four innings, SMC’s Lemmon also kept her opposing offense from scoring. Although Hull extended her hit streak and Brickey drilled a sharp single to right, Kansas was also still scoreless through four innings.
Jones went right back to work in the top of the fifth, erasing a leadoff single by striking out three-straight to surpass her career-high and temporarily keep her shutout intact. As luck would have it, she also led off the bottom of the fifth and got the offense going when she sprinted out a misplayed groundball. Even though a run-down would result in her being called out two batters later, Hull was able to break the scoring drought on another Gael error.
Armed with the 1-0 lead, Kansas needed three outs to claim the victory, but more softball was on the docket. Gael first baseman Sarah Lira drove a leadoff homer over the left field wall to tie the game at 1-1.
Back to the plate for the decisive bottom of the seventh, Jones again led off the frame. A pitch that got away from Lemmon struck Jones in the head, which she painfully shook off and took first base. Hull wasted no time picking up her teammate as she came up behind Jones and slammed her fifth homer of the season off the scoreboard to end the game, 3-1.
Kansas will square off against Texas State on Saturday morning to continue the Capital Classic hosted by Sacramento State. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT.
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