Kansas Falls in Seventh to No. 1 Oklahoma, 4-2
May 5, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas took advantage of opportunities, including a complete game effort from sophomore Alicia Pille, but No. 1 Oklahoma used two unearned runs in the seventh to claim the first game of the day, 4-2, Sunday morning at Arrocha Ballpark.
Facing its first No. 1 opponent since Feb. 16, 2001 (UCLA), Kansas (30-16, 5-8) took the first lead of the morning and later tied the game at against No. 1 Oklahoma (44-3, 12-1) before coming up two runs short in the final frame. In their fifth game all-time against a No. 1 foe, Sunday’s game one marked the closest game played against a top-ranked team.
Last year’s series opener against the powerful Sooners and All-American starter Keilani Ricketts (25-1) resulted in a five-inning perfect game, and the Jayhawks were determined not to face the same fate in Sunday’s opener – taking a 1-0 lead out of the second inning. KU kept it until the fifth inning before a bloop single accounted for the first two runs and a pair of misplays made up for the next two.
A well-thrown game by both pitchers, Ricketts recorded a season-high 17 strikeouts in her complete seven innings, allowing two runs – one earned – on four hits. Opposite her, Pille (13-8) tossed her 16th complete game of the year, striking out seven and giving up four runs – two earned – in the loss.
Sophomore third baseman Chanin Naudin drove in KU’s only RBI with a long double to right center, while sophomore right fielder Cassen Salamone and freshman designated player Alex Hugo each scored a run for the Jayhawks.
For the Sooners, second baseman Georgia Casey led the offense, going 1-for-3 with both of OU’s RBIs. Right fielder Callie Parsons went 1-for-1 with a pair of runs scored.
After senior left fielder Maggie Hull collected her Big 12-leading 65th hit of the year in KU’s first at bat, the Jayhawks got right back after it in the bottom of the second. Salamone drew a leadoff walk and her speed made it possible to score on Naudin’s double to right center, handing the Jayhawks the 1-0 lead.
The Jayhawks kept at it, loading the bases with no one out thanks to a single from senior first baseman Mariah Montgomery – but Ricketts went into lockdown mode. Once KU took the 1-0 advantage, the U.S. National Team pitcher struck out nine of the next 10 Jayhawks she faced.
Ricketts wasn’t the only one dealing as Pille racked up six strikeouts and surrendered just one hit through the first four innings. It was an inside pitch that Casey poked into shallow right field to flip the scoreboard in OU’s favor, 2-1. Pille refocused, however, and left runners on second and third to prevent the Sooners from adding to their lead.
Pille’s tactic worked well as the Jayhawks tied the game they next chance they got. Hugo took off on a dropped third strike to reach first base and when a bad throw ricocheted into right field, Hugo sprinted around the bases to score and tie the game, 2-2.
Knotted at 2-2 heading into the seventh, the Sooners led off with a walk and a single before a long fly to right allowed OU’s runners to advance to the corners with one out. A squeeze bunt play resulted in an errant throw, giving the eventual winning run room to score and break the tie, 3-2. Ricketts drove in one final run to send Kansas to the bottom of the seventh facing a 4-2 deficit.
Hugo ripped a single through the left side in an attempt to start a two-out rally, but a groundout ended the game in the Oklahoma’s favor, 4-2.
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