Pille Powers Kansas Past UMKC in the Nightcap, 3-2
April 25, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Freshman Alicia Pille’s 17th career victory propelled the Kansas softball team to its second-straight 30-win season as the Jayhawks defeated UMKC, 3-2, in the nightcap at Arrocha Ballpark on Wednesday evening.
After throwing a complete-game victory in game one, Pille (17-9) entered the game in relief in the second game of the night and proceeded to shutdown UMKC (19-27, 7-11) to guide Kansas (30-16, 5-13) to its second-straight 30-win season.
“These girls are working hard and believing and they go out everyday and give it their all,” third-year head coach Megan Smith said. “If we win, great, and if we don’t, we have to give it our all. That’s what we tell them. I’m really happy for them. It’s tough to go through losing seasons. To reach 30 wins is a big deal for them. We’ve got six more games to go – hopefully more than that – so hopefully we’ll get more than 30.”
Down 2-1, Pille came in facing a one-out, bases loaded situation in the top of the fifth. What looked to be the `Roos opportunity to break the game open was quickly thwarted when freshman third baseman Chanin Naudin made a stellar defensive play to throw a runner out at home and Pille struck out the last batter of the inning to end the threat.
The two runs her offense scored in the following frame put Pille in line for her 17th win of the year, the most by a Kansas freshman since Kara Pierce won 22 games in 2001 and ties her for third all-time by a Jayhawk rookie (Stephani Williams, 1991). She allowed one hit, struck out two and walked none in her 2.2 innings of relief.
At the plate, junior left fielder Maggie Hull, who snapped her team-best, 12-game hit streak in game one, didn’t pause for long. She came out and drilled three hits, drove in two RBIs and scored once during her 20th multi-hit game of the season. Still the Big 12 leader with a .424 batting average, Hull needs only four more runs to become the all-time single-season leader at Kansas and checks in at ninth all-time for most hits in a season (64).
After the `Roos scored two runs off Jayhawk starter Morgan Druhan in the top of the first, Hull’s seventh homer of the year in the bottom of the first cut the `Roos lead in half, 2-1.
Although sophomore Kristin Martinez would hold UMKC off the board until Pille entered in the top of the fifth, UMKC starter Cinda Ramos (9-12) had the same effect on the Jayhawks for the next three innings. Ramos took the loss in the circle, surrendering only one earned run in the defeat.
In the decisive fifth inning, sophomore centerfielder Elsa Moyer was the catalyst when she beat out an infield single and caused the throwing error that would allow sophomore second baseman Ashley Newman to score in front of her, tying the game. Maggie Hull came up a clutch RBI single that proved to be the game winner.
Kansas will wrap up its home schedule against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, April 27-29. All five Jayhawk seniors will be recognized before game two on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Game one is set for Friday at 5 p.m. with Sunday’s series finale slated for noon.