🥎 Jayhawks Drop Doubleheader to McNeese State

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Kansas Jayhawks opened their 2021 season Friday with a doubleheader against McNeese State at the Tiger Classic at Tiger Park.

Kansas dropped both ends of the doubleheader, falling by one run in each game to the Cowgirls. Shelby Gayre and Tarin Travieso both homered on the day and Madison Hirsch had three hits in the two games.

Game 1, McNeese State 9, Kansas 8

A grand slam by junior Shelby Gayre was not enough for the Kansas Jayhawks, as they dropped the first game of a double header, 9-8, against McNeese State in the season opener at Tiger Park on the campus of LSU.

Hailey Reed got the start for the Jayhawks in the circle and pitched five innings while striking out three batters. Reed shut down the Cowgirls in the first inning, getting two of her three strikeouts.

The Jayhawks clicked in the bottom of the second inning, with both Miranda Rodriguez and Ashlyn Anderson getting on base. A fielder’s choice led to Rodriguez scoring and a single by Hirsch brought Anderson across the plate to give Kansas a 2-0 lead.

A single to center by Sydnee Ramsey with runners on second and third led to both runners scoring and the Jayhawks doubled their lead, 4-0.

McNeese State wasn’t going to go away so easy. The Cowgirls got a pair of runs in the third and scored four runs in the fourth to go ahead, 6-4.

A single in the sixth scored another run for the Cowgirls and a two-run home run in the top of the seventh game them a commanding 9-4.

Kansas got the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning with Gayre coming to the plate. Gayre swung on a 3-1 pitch and hammered the ball into left center, scoring all four runs on her first grand slam to bring Kansas within one run of McNeese State.

Gayre, a second-team All-American last season, had 11 homers last year, and didn’t waste any time hitting her first in 2021.

Hirsch and Ramsey both finished with multi-hit games in the loss for the Jayhawks. Ramsey went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Hirsch went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored.

Game 2, McNeese State 6, Kansas 5

The second game of the doubleheader was another close one as the Kansas Jayhawks fell, 6-5, on a walk-off home run.

Lexy Mills got the starting nod for Kansas and the righty pitched through four innings, striking out eight batters and only allowing one hit in her first appearance of the season.

The Jayhawks’ offense struggled to capitalize on big moments after stranding five runners on base through the first three innings.

After the Cowgirls got on the board following back-to-back walks and a three-run home run, Kansas started to battle back.

After Travieso was hit by a pitch and replaced at first on a fielder’s choice by Haleigh Harper, Ashlyn Anderson doubled to left field to give Kansas runners on second and third with one out.

Harper then scored on a fielder’s choice by Jackson and a single by Hirsch brought in Anderson to trim the Jayhawks’ deficit to one run.

In the top of the fifth inning, a left field homer by Morgyn Wynne tied the game at three.

After Mills walked a pair of batters in the bottom of the fifth, Kasey Hamilton made her Kansas debut and came in to pitch in relief.

A sac fly scored another run for the Cowgirls in the bottom of the fifth and they added a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to give them a 5-3 edge on the Jayhawks.

After Ramsey got on base with a walk, a pair of strikeouts looked like it would end the game for the Jayhawks. However, Travieso smacked a two-out two-run home run into right field to tie the game in the top of the seventh.

It wasn’t enough, however, as the Cowgirls hit a walk-off home run to end the game in the bottom of the seventh.

The Jayhawks continue to play in the LSU Tournament Saturday, Feb. 13 against Central Arkansas and tournament-host No. 5 LSU at Tiger Park.