Kansas Falls in Back-and-Forth Battle at Missouri State, 5-4
March 27, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –Clutch scoring on both sides accounted for four lead changes, but it was Missouri State that held on for the 5-4 victory in the nightcap to split the doubleheader with the Kansas softball team at Killian Stadium Tuesday night.
Unlike game one, Kansas (23-7) wasted no time getting on the board in the second game of the day. The top of the Jayhawk lineup broke out three singles and a walk to take a 2-0 lead before the first out was even recorded. An MSU defensive miscue handed the Jayhawks a 3-0 advantage by the end of the first frame.
Missouri State (14-11) answered with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning, setting the tone for the back-and-forth evening. Three runs in the bottom of the fourth gave MSU the lead, KU tied the game in its next at bat before the Bears took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth.
Though Kansas would threaten with hits in the sixth and seventh inning, the Jayhawks were unable to put together one last comeback.
“We came out and didn’t play our type of game in the second game,” head coach Megan Smithsaid. “We did in spurts but not consistently. You have to bring that focus and intensity consistently against teams at this level or you’re not going to win.”
Junior Morgan Druhan started in the circle, allowing only one run through the first three innings until the Bears strung together three runs in the fourth to prompt her exit from the game for sophomore Kristin Martinez. Martinez (5-1) took her first loss of the year as she surrendered the decisive run in the bottom of the fifth.
For the second time on Tuesday, Jayhawk captains Liz Kocon and Mariah Montgomery led the RBI charge as both drove in runs in the first inning. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Newman accounted for one of the runs driven in. She made it as easy as possible on the hitters behind her by swiping second and third to put herself in position to score. The pair of stolen bases made Newman a perfect 18-for-18 on the season and marks the most steals by a Jayhawk since Shelly Musser stole 25 bags in 2000.
Before Tuesday’s second game, a four-game hiatus had separated Newman and junior left fielder Maggie Hull from their usual one-two spot in the lineup. When they returned to their usual order for the nightcap, each proceeded to score on back-to-back RBIs from Montgomery and Kocon. The duo’s first-inning runs marked the 16th time this season that one or both have scored in the first inning.
Meanwhile, a defensive mishap on a groundball from freshman catcher Lexi Bryantsent Kocon home and KU nabbed the early 3-0 lead.
The Bears answered immediately with three-straight hits in the bottom of the first to slightly chip away at the Jayhawk lead, 3-1.
Cruising with the two-run lead, Druhan ran into an MSU buzzsaw in the bottom of the fourth as eight Bears went to the plate to retake the lead, 4-3.
A hit batter led off the inning before a walk, two singles and an error prompted Smith to restore order, replacing Druhan with Martinez. Martinez surrendered an RBI single before ending the Bears’ big inning with back-to-back pop-ups.
Again, Kansas rose to the occasion. Montgomery beat out an error on the infield to leadoff the fifth. With two outs against her, freshman first baseman Maddie Stein drilled an RBI single through the right side to tie the game, 4-4. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, it would be the last time they would score.
Freshman Chelsea Jones started the game in the circle until senior Natalie Rose (10-4) was called in to pitch after Kansas tied the game in the fifth inning, moving Jones to the designated player position. Fittingly, Jones helped herself in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single. Two sacrifice bunts and an infield hit manufactured the winning run as MSU took the lead for good, 5-4.
Kansas gets back on the road for a rescheduled doubleheader at Missouri State on Tuesday, March 27. Originally slated for March 20, rain moved the two-game set back by a week. First pitch times are 4 and 6 p.m.