Kansas Takes Round One at Texas Tech, 4-3
April 5, 2013
LUBBOCK, Texas – A third inning solo shot from sophomore third baseman Chanin Naudin proved to be the game winner as Kansas buckled down to claim game one of the series at Texas Tech, 4-3, Friday night at Rocky Johnson Field.
A meeting between two of the Big 12 Conference’s potent offenses, Kansas (22-10, 1-3) looked to have the more powerful one after Naudin’s second home run of the year gave the Jayhawks a 4-0 lead over Texas Tech (27-15, 1-3). As expected, however, the Red Raiders’ bats also got going and a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh appeared to power the final comeback attempt.
Freshman Kelsey Kessler and her defense thought otherwise. The rookie earned the first save of her career, collecting the last five outs of the game – including the long fly ball that senior left fielder Maggie Hull tracked down for the final out to strand the tying run on third.
“It was a very fun game,” head coach Megan Smith said. “We think all three games this weekend will be like this. They are a very good team with a very good offense. Tonight was our night. (Alicia) Pille and (Kelsey) Kessler threw well and our offense came through and really put pressure on them and it worked.”
Aside from Naudin’s homer, sophomore catcher Maddie Stein led the offense, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Junior second baseman Ashley Newman also racked up two hits and her eighth stolen base of the year. Maggie Hull extended her hit streak to a Big 12-best 18 games in her first at bat, stole second, scored the game’s first run and tied for the team-lead with five put outs during a game highly affected by wind.
Sophomore Alicia Pille (8-6) threw a quality start, keeping the Red Raiders off balance through the first five innings en route to earning the win. She dealt a walk to centerfielder Mikey Kenney to lead off the Raider first, but went on to retire nine-straight batters before giving up an infield hit. She went on to finish her outing with three runs allowed off of four hits in 5.2 innings of work. She struck out four and walked one.
“She had a great start, she held them and had her composure,” Smith said. “They got to her a little bit the third time through and Kelsey came in and did an excellent job closing it.”
Sophomore Cara Custer (12-7) took the loss in the circle, but the Jayhawks did a good job getting to her, giving themselves an opportunity to face all three of TTU’s pitchers in the first game of the weekend. Custer was charged with three of the runs in an inning-plus, while junior Brittany Talley gave up the homer to Naudin.
In the opening frame, the Jayhawks capitalized on opportunities the first time they were presented. After Hull extended her streak with one out, she took off for a stolen base to put a runner in scoring position with two outs. Stein came through with a chopped single through the right side for the first run of the game. That combined with a misplayed ball on a hard grounder by senior right fielder Rosie Hull saw KU take a 2-0 lead out of the first.
Freshman shortstop Chaley Brickey drew a walk to lead off the second inning, which quickly ended Custer’s start for Talley. Kansas took advantage. Another defensive miscue, a bad throw while attempting to throw out redshirt junior centerfielder Alex Jones, gave Brickey room to score and KU climbed ahead, 3-0. Naudin’s two-out solo blast made for three-consecutive innings with runs on the board for Kansas, propelling Kansas to a 4-0 lead.
Armed with the sizable lead heading into the bottom of the third, Pille kept the home team off the board for the next two innings before TTU caught fire in the bottom of the sixth. Left fielder Shelby Johnson followed a single from Kenney with an RBI double to left center. Adding to the rally, right fielder Katelyn Williams hit a two-run home run to cut KU’s lead to one, 4-3.
From there, Kessler took over. A strikeout and fly out ended the sixth and although Kessler surrendered a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh, third base was as close as the tying run would come. Kessler and the Jayhawks hung on for the 4-3 win, snapping Tech’s five-game win streak at home.
The Jayhawks and Red Raiders will face off in game two of the series on Saturday at 4 p.m.
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