Kansas Finishes Flawless Fall Season by Sweeping Jayhawk Invitational
Oct. 16, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Powered by a no-hitter from freshman pitcher Alicia Pille in game one and two homeruns from junior shortstop Mariah Montgomery in the nightcap, the University of Kansas softball team defeated Labette Community College, 12-0, and Seminole State, 8-0, Sunday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
In the last weekend of fall ball, head coach Megan Smith made the decision to play both games using a more stable lineup than the previous exhibition play over the last three weeks. The decision was well-made as Pille threw a no-hitter in her first complete game of the year, while junior transfer pitcher Morgan Druhan tossed complete game shutout against Seminole State in game two. The two Jayhawk newcomers combined for 21 strikeouts in just five innings apiece.
“It was a good effort from everybody,” Smith said after game one. “We had really good base running, everyone made good contact at the plate and Alicia Pille threw lights out. We just looked sharp all the way around, which is good to see since it’s our last day of the fall.”
At the plate, the Jayhawks showed productive balance up and down the lineup, but benefited greatly from Montgomery’s monster day. The junior crushed a pair of homeruns in the win against Seminole State to highlight her 5-for-6 day that included eight RBI, five runs scored and three doubles.
Montgomery was joined by several offensive contributors, such as junior left fielder Maggie Hull who went 5-for-7 on the day with three doubles and four runs scored. Twin sister, and fellow outfielder, Rosie Hull posted a 2-for-4 day with a pair of doubles as Kansas cranked out 12 extra base hits on Sunday. After spending last season at the helm of a 60-homerun team, Smith knew the hitting would come but is even more please with her pitching staff’s efficiency.
“We are hitting like we’ve been hitting. We hit well last fall,” Smith said, trying to determine similarities from this fall to last. “But I think the general intensity level with everyone is ahead of schedule, along with our pitching staff. They really complement each other well. We’ve got to keep working through the fall and winter. We have a few more weeks left of fall and we’re going to work hard. Then we’ll come back in January and work even harder so we can build on the season we had last year.”
Against a Cardinal squad that won the Jayhawk Community College Conference and the NJCAA Region VI Championship a season ago, Pille came out firing from the circle. After allowing a walk to the first batter of the game, the freshman pitcher retired the next 15 batters in a row – 11 of which were by strikeouts – to record her first no-hitter of the fall.
At the plate, Maggie Hull got the Jayhawks on the board in their first opportunity when she stole home after leading off the game with a double. Montgomery picked up her first RBI when she drove in freshman centerfielder Cassen Salamone to push Kansas to the early, 3-0 lead. A seven-run third inning, highlighted by four Jayhawk doubles, put the game out of reach with the eventual final score, 12-0.
Druhan took the circle in game two to face Seminole State, and posted an equally impressive outing. In her 5.0 innings of work, she struck out 10 and allowed no runs or walks, while surrendering only three hits.
The South Alabama transfer had plenty of offense behind her. For the second time on Sunday, Maggie Hull led off the game with a double and a run scored to put Kansas on the board the first chance it got. Montgomery also unleashed a double before senior designated hitter Liz Kocon’s RBI double gave KU the 2-0 lead.
Montgomery’s solo shot led off the third, but she gave the Jayhawks an even bigger push when she strode to the plate with two on and one out in the bottom of the fourth. She connected on a pitch to deep right center to put her team ahead, 6-0. Two more runs in the fifth would end the game in favor of the Jayhawks, 8-0.
Kansas now returns to the final weeks of team practices before transitioning back to individual workouts at the close of the fall semester. In January, the Jayhawks will report back to Lawrence ready to improve on a 31-22 season that had them on the NCAA Tournament selection bubble a year ago.
“We’re mixing things up a lot this fall since we have seven new faces,” Smith said. “But it’s looking pretty good and we’re seeing some people settle in. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, which is what you want, and they’re playing together as a team. That’s easy to see as we’re watching them this fall. It’s really a good group with great team cohesion. We like the way they work together.”