Kansas Walks-Off With Senior Day Win Against No. 24 Texas Tech, 5-4
April 28, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Facing a one-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh, the Kansas softball team used a Maggie Hull double and a walk-off RBI single from Mariah Montgomery to fuel the Senior Day comeback victory, 5-4, Saturday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
The walk-off win marked the seventh time this season that Kansas (31-17, 6-14) has come back to win a game in which it was trailing after the third inning. More importantly, it’s the Jayhawks’ second win against a top-25 opponent this season and its fourth victory against a top-35 RPI foe. KU’s sixth Big 12 win ties its most since the 2009 season.
The teams wrapped up game one roughly an hour before hitting the field again for regularly-scheduled game two. By the middle of the sixth inning, No. 24 Texas Tech (38-14, 11-9) had climbed out to a 4-1 lead with only six outs remaining.
Kansas buckled down and started chipping away at the deficit. The Jayhawks scored twice in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a hustle play from freshman Maddie Stein to put the leadoff runner on and back-to-back hits from freshman Chanin Naudin and Liz Kocon. With three outs still remaining, Kansas had cut the Tech lead to one, 4-3.
After sophomore Kristin Martinez (6-2) held off the potent Red Raider offense in the top of the seventh, the Jayhawk offense took over for the final frame. Sophomore centerfielder Elsa Moyer chopped an infield single to kickoff the rally before Big 12 batting leader Maggie Hull came through with a double to left center to tie the game.
Wanting to pull off the senior day victory, she said after the game, Montgomery came through with an RBI single to left field, driving in the game-winning run in an emotional victory.
“Senior day is a nerve wrecking day,” head coach Megan Smith said. “There is a lot of emotion involved, there is a lot of wanting to do well for the seniors involved and to end it like that – it’s awesome. Not just for the seniors, but for the underclassmen – they want to win it for the seniors. It makes all of this (senior celebration) a lot more fun.”
Montgomery drilled her team-leading eighth homer of the year in the bottom of the second before coming up with the walk-off single, pushing her team-leading RBI count to 45 on the season. Her RBI count as well as her career home run numbers (23) tie the junior captain for fifth all-time at Kansas on both lists. Additionally, her game winner drove in Hull, who now needs two more runs to break KU’s single-season run record (46, Rose Rader, 1980).
While the day was dedicated to the seniors, KU received a balanced effort throughout the lineup as every starter but one recorded a hit and/or scored a run in the come from behind win.
The offense wasn’t the only bright spot on Saturday, however, as Martinez threw 4.1 innings of solid relief behind starter Alicia Pille to earn the victory. Aside from a solo homer in the top of the sixth, Martinez held the Red Raiders scoreless after taking over in the circle in the top of the third. She struck out one and scattered five hits in the win.
Freshman Cara Custer (24-9) was called in to shut down a Jayhawk threat in the bottom of the third and kept the home team quiet as long as she could. She took the loss for Texas Tech after surrendering four runs on six hits – three of which came during the seventh-inning rally.
Kansas and No. 24 Texas Tech will return to Arrocha Ballpark to decide the series winner on Sunday at noon. Sunday is also “Brunch in the Park,” where fans can buy breakfast for only $1 per person.