Kansas Buckles Down to Take Game One Against UMKC, 3-1
April 25, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Handed a 2-0 lead via a first-inning homer from freshman Maddie Stein, the Kansas softball team made it stand for the remainder of the game to take game one of the doubleheader with UMKC, 3-1, Wednesday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
Kansas (29-16, 5-13) sprinted out of the gate with a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, thanks to the hot-handed Stein. The rookie first baseman cranked her fourth homer in three games, handing Kansas a lead it would keep for the next six innings.
Stein extended her hit streak to nine games with the first-inning bomb and finished game one 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Sophomore centerfielder Elsa Moyer and redshirt senior right fielder Liz Koconeach churned out a pair of hits, while Kocon collected the Jayhawks’ third RBI. The Jayhawk senior increased her margin as the KU all-time career RBI leader with 132 runs driven in.
Sophomore second baseman Ashley Newmancontinued her climb toward the KU record books, as well. She swiped a base in the bottom of the second, making her a perfect 21-for-21 on the season, the most since Shelly Musser stole 25 bases in 2000.
Although UMKC (19-26, 7-11) answered KU’s first-inning runs right away in the top of the second with a two-out RBI single from designated player Chelsea Hartwig, the Kangaroo offense wouldn’t score again. Hartwig and shortstop Kaelene Curry’s 2-for-4 effort accounted for more than half of UMKC’s five hits.
In the circle, freshman Alicia Pille(16-9) recorded her 16th victory using her 16th complete game of the year. After surrendering a run in the second, Pille did not allow another hit until a one-out single in the top of the seventh. The Royse City, Texas native scattered five hits over seven innings, walked three and struck out six – the most in her last eight appearances (6 vs. Baylor, 4/7).
After Stein’s homer, UMKC starter Deanna Friese (9-14) quieted the Kansas lineup, allowing just one walk through the next two innings until freshman catcher Lexi Bryantbusted out a double with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. The two-bagger marked the 11th of the season, tying her for third-most by a Kansas freshman.
Friese left Bryant there, as she did for much of the afternoon. The junior took the loss despite a solid performance, allowing three runs on eight Kansas hits, yet never letting the Jayhawks get a comfortable lead.
The `Roos starter looked as if run support was on its way in the top of the fifth, when a pair of two-out walks sandwiched between a blooper single over third base loaded the bases for the first time for either team. Pille buckled down and forced a pop up to end the inning, stranding all three runners.
Her lineup immediately showed its appreciation in its next trip to the plate. Moyer led off the bottom of the fifth with her second single of the game and moved to third on Stein’s infield single, putting her in position for head coach Megan Smith’snext play call.
The Kansas coach signaled for a bunt from Kocon, and she responded accordingly. Kocon dropped down a textbook suicide squeeze bunt, giving Moyer room to slide home and extend the Jayhawks’ lead, 3-1.
That was all of the cushion Pille would need. UMKC would make it interesting with a walk and a bunt single in the top of the seventh, but Moyer tracked down a fly ball in centerfield for the final out of the game to seal the 3-1 Kansas victory.