Kansas, Kessler Blank Texas Tech, 3-0
April 6, 2013
LUBBOCK, Texas – Home runs from Chanin Naudin and Chaley Brickey highlighted the offense behind rookie pitcher Kelsey Kessler’s complete game shutout as Kansas won its second-straight against Texas Tech, 3-0, Saturday afternoon at Rocky Johnson Field.
Kansas (23-10, 2-3) recorded its 11th shutout of the year, holding Texas Tech (27-16, 1-4) to only four hits in the win. The victory marked KU’s first consecutive Big 12 wins since taking the first two games of the series against Oklahoma State in Lawrence on March 23-24, 2012.
“That’s tough to do and that’s a great offensive team over there,” head coach Megan Smith said on the shutout. “I thought they started to gain some momentum last night offensively, but Kelsey Kessler came out today and shut them out. She had a great performance today.”
After recording the first save of her career, Kessler (6-3) shook off a bases-loaded threat in the bottom of the first to set the tone for her calm and confident outing. The Blue Springs, Mo., native struck out four and scattered four hits over seven innings, while leaving eight total Red Raiders on base.
“I think she was in control of their hitters and if there was ever a doubt, she would bear down and go at them,” Smith said. “Her demeanor in the circle was great today. She was confident and we were confident in her. We were really happy to see that.”
KU’s offensive power came from the left side of the infield on Saturday as Naudin kicked off the scoring effort with a solo shot in the top of the second. Brickey came up right behind her and did the same for the first home run of her career, and drew walks in her next two at bats. Naudin added the final RBI of the game with an RBI groundout in the sixth.
Senior left fielder Maggie Hull extended her hit streak to 19 games, the longest by any Big 12 hitter this season, and joined freshman catcher Alex Hugo as the only players with multi-hit games on Saturday.
Thanks to Naudin and Brickey’s back-to-back blasts, Kessler had a 2-0 lead by the middle of the second inning. Additionally, the homering duo stopped the rotating pitching substitutions that saw the Red Raiders swap hurlers four times in the first four outs. Once Brickey’s shot cleared the centerfield wall off of reliever Gretchen Aucoin (5-2), however, original starter Brittany Talley took over for the next inning and a half.
Texas Tech would make its fifth and final pitching change when sophomore Cara Custer was called in when Naudin and Brickey came back up in the order. This time, the Red Raiders stranded two to end the Jayhawks’ fourth.
The Red Raiders made consistent attempts to fight back, putting runners on in each of the first four innings, but Kessler stayed strong, leaving runners on third base in both the first and fourth innings – the 27th and 28th times this year the KU defense has stranded a runner 60 feet from the plate.
With Naudin chipping driving a deep groundball to shortstop, Hugo had room to score the final run of the game. Now armed with a 3-0 lead, Kessler retired 10-straight to end the game.
Kansas will look for its first conference road sweep since sweeping Texas Tech in Lubbock April 21-22, 2007. The 2012 season marked the first year that Big 12 series consisted of three games. The Jayhawks and Red Raiders will play the series finale Sunday at noon.
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