Kansas Fights, Falls in Late-Night Battle with No. 5 Texas, 7-5
April 14, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. An hour-long weather delay did not deter the Kansas softball team from outhitting No. 5 Texas, but couldn’t stop the Longhorns from scoring three go-ahead runs in the sixth to win the nightcap at Arrocha Ballpark Friday night.
Already more than an hour behind due to a nearly three-hour ordeal in the series opener, the second game started at 8:15 p.m. and made it through the first two innings before lightning caused both teams to seek shelter. One hour and one minute later, play resumed and a battle unfolded that saw Kansas turn a 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 lead before ultimately succumbing to the top-five Longhorns in a three-and-a-half hour matchup.
No. 5 Texas (34-5, 8-3) picked up where it left off in game one as the offense came out red hot for a three-run first inning. Third baseman Nadia Taylor connected on her third home run of the day to cap the Longhorns’ big opening frame. A triple combined with a suicide squeeze handed Texas the 4-0 lead by the top of the second.
Unfazed, Kansas (26-14, 3-11) also came out ready. Junior shortstop Mariah Montgomery cut the lead in half with a two-run homer in the bottom of the second. Her team-best seventh homer of the season slammed off of the scaffolding beyond the centerfield fence for her 36th and 37th RBIs of the year. She finished the night 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
She wasn’t the only Jayhawk to have success on Friday as Kansas posted nine hits in game two compared to UT’s six. Junior left fielder Maggie Hull and freshman first baseman Maddie Stein collected two hits apiece in the nightcap, making the second time on Friday Hull posted multiple hits. The captain also unleashed her team-leading 11th double on the season during a late Jayhawk rally.
In the circle, freshman Alicia Pille (13-7) played the role of the ace. In her 13th complete game of the year, Pille scattered just seven hits and struck out four. Although she was charged with seven runs, only four were earned in an uncharacteristic defensive night for Kansas.
As they did in the series opener, seniors Nadia Taylor and Lexy Bennett set the tone for the Longhorn offense. Bennett cranked out two homers, while Taylor hit one to combine for four RBIs. A clutch two-out, two-RBI single by catcher Mandy Ogle proved to be the winning runs in the top of the sixth.
Sophomore Rachel Fox made the start for the Longhorns, but was forced out of the game while Kansas held the lead, surrendering five runs off of six hits. Her replacement, junior Kim Bruins (7-3) was solid in relief, throwing four scoreless innings for the win.
Minutes after Montgomery’s long ball, lightning interrupted play. Both teams were called off the field for a one hour, one minute delay.
The long break had zero effect on the Jayhawks’ patience. They drew three walks in their first at bat following the delay, including Rosie Hull drawing one with the bases loaded. Her discipline at the plate cut the Longhorn lead to one, 4-3.
Unrelenting, the Kansas offense got after again in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Newman beat out an errant throw and was joined seconds later by Maggie Hull, who legged out an infield single. Selflessly, Naudin – the team’s hottest hitter as of late – put down a sac bunt to move the duo to second and third with one away.
A passed ball and a bad throw combined on the same play, allowing Newman and Hull to score. No matter how unorthodox, the Jayhawks had taken their first lead of the night.
Meanwhile, Pille was sharp in the circle, keeping the Longhorns off the board for three innings heading into the top of the sixth.
Bennett’s second solo homer of the night kicked off the sixth and tied the game, 5-5. Pille followed that with a pair of walks, including an intentional pass to Taylor. A diving grab by Stein to cut off a sac bunt attempt and a Pille strikeout looked to end the inning in a tie ballgame.
Ogle came up with the clutch two-out single, but a misplay in the outfield allowed both runners on base to score to give UT the two-run advantage. Montgomery led off the bottom of the seventh with a single up the middle, but Bruins kept the Jayhawks from rallying any further.
Kansas and Texas will face off in the series finale Saturday at 2 p.m.