🥎 Jayhawks Split First Two Games of the 2024 Season
CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Kansas softball team split its first two games of the new season at Eddie C. Moore Complex in the NFCA Leadoff Classic Friday night. It opened with a 5-3 loss to No. 13 Oregon, before taking care of business against St. John’s, 6-1, in the second game of the double-header.
Kansas moved to 1-1 on the season, as Oregon improved to 1-1 and St. John’s fell to 0-2.
Aynslee Linduff led the Jayhawks in batting through the first two games, as she posted an average of .600 in five at-bats, including a double. Lyric Moore and Presley Limbaugh followed with an average of .500, while Moore hit her first home run of the season in the first game. Both Moore and Limbaugh earned RBI triples in the second game.
“I thought we competed really well against Oregon,” said Head Coach Jennifer McFalls after the game. “It’s tough to come right out of the gate and play someone that strong. Again, I think it was a good measuring stick for us to truly see where we are at. It was close, the game could have gone in a lot of different directions. I was proud of our fight at the end. I loved our answer in game two, just coming out and attacking. I said we needed to make a statement and we did.”
Kansas drew the No. 15 team in the nation in Oregon for its first game of the new season. Kasey Hamilton got the start in the circle as both pitchers were dealing early. Kansas had a chance to break the 0-0 tie in the top of the first after Sara Roszak reached first on a fielder’s choice and Aynslee Linduff hit a line drive single down the left field line. Both runners advanced a base after a passed ball but were left stranded after Angela Price hit a routine flyout.
Oregon got on the board first and with runners on second and third. The Ducks hit a soft dribbler down the first base line which was good enough for the runner on third to score. Hamilton was able to minimize the damage as she retired the next batter as Oregon took a 1-0 lead into the third.
Oregon added more runs in the fifth, the first of which came on a close play at the plate. Roszak collected a line drive and threw it to home, but it was too little too late as Oregon was just safe to score. With no outs and runners on second and third, Oregon took advantage and hit a deep sacrifice fly to left. The Ducks added another runner in the same fashion in the next at-bat and the Ducks took a 4-0 lead into the sixth. Oregon added another in the sixth, a groundout to second got the runner on third home.
The Jayhawks tried to rally in the seventh as Aynslee Linduff had a career day at the dish. She doubled and reached third on a throwing error by the catcher, followed by a hard-hit single to third by Presley Limbaugh for KU’s first score of the game. Lyric Moore followed that up with the first home run of 2024, but Kansas were unable to get another score as Oregon took the win 5-3.
PITCHERS OF RECORD
Win: Taylour Spencer
Final Line: IP: 4.1, H: 5, R: 1, BB: 0, SO: 1
Loss: Kasey Hamilton
Final Line: IP: 6.0, H: 7, R: 5, BB: 3, SO: 0
The bats were hot for Kansas out of the gate. Linduff continued to get on base as she started the second game of the double-header with a walk. In the next at-bat, Moore continued to flash the bat with a RBI triple to right center to get Kansas’ first run of the game across. Hailey Cripe followed suit as she hit a RBI single to left to give Kansas a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
KU added another run in the second after Angela Price notched her first hit of the season, followed by another KU triple from Presley Limbaugh to extend the lead to 3-0. Kansas scored three more in the third off of four hits. After Moore was caught stealing at second, Olivia Bruno and Cripe answered. Cripe hit a RBI double to left as Bruno raced from first for the score. Roszak followed with a single of her own to score Cripe. With bases loaded and two outs, Limbaugh earned a walk at the plate to give Kansas a 6-0 advantage.
St. John’s was able to add a run of its own in the fifth, but that was all the Red Storm could muster, thanks to great pitching and defense by Kansas.
Katie Brooks got the start in the circle, and she had a career night. Brooks struck out a career-high seven batters en route to her first win of the season. She only allowed five hits, three walks and one run against 26 batters in 6.0 innings pitched.
PITCHERS OF RECORD
Win: Katie Brooks
Final Line: IP: 6.0, H: 5, R: 1, BB: 3, SO: 7
Loss: Loreley Francia
Final Line: IP: 2.1, H: 8, R: 5, BB: 1, SO: 0
Kansas will take on another double-header at the NFCA Leadoff Classic at it is set to take on Indiana at 3 p.m. CT and Central Arkansas at 6 p.m. CT. Both games will be streamed via GameChanger.