🥎 Jayhawks Sweep First Two of GCU Tournament
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Kansas Softball team posted a perfect first day of the 2022 season Friday, topping Northern Colorado 7-1 and Bradley 13-8 at the Grand Canyon University Tournament.
The Jayhawks are now 2-0 on the young season with two more games set for Saturday.
"Certainly it was a great day for us, this team has had great chemistry and their energy was great all day. To be real honest, I am just really proud of our start."Head Coach Jennifer McFalls
Game 1 – Kansas 7, Northern Colorado 1
On Friday, Kansas got off to a hot start when it opened up against Northern Colorado. Kasey Hamilton started in the circle and threw five innings, earning her first win of the season. She allowed just four hits and didn’t allow any walks, while striking out one.
Macy Omli was the first Jayhawk to get a hit, with a single in the first. From there, she stole second. Shelby Gayre came up to the plate with one on and two outs and hit a single that brought home Omli, giving the Jayhawks an early 1-0 lead over the Bears.
Northern Colorado answered in the second to tie the game.
The Jayhawks took control from there. In the top of the fourth, Cheyenne Hornbuckle and Savanna DesRochers singled back-to-back to put runners on the corners. With two on and two out, Shayna Espy stepped up to the plate. She singled and advanced to third on an error by the third baseman. Espy picked up two RBI when Hornbuckle and DesRochers came home, giving the Jayhawks a 3-1 advantage.
The very next at-bat, Omli struck again with a double to left field, bringing home Espy and moving the Jayhawks to a 4-1 lead.
It was in the top of the sixth when the Jayhawks added more runs. Hornbuckle led off with a walk and Angela Price came in to pinch run for her. Two batters later with one on and one out, Haleigh Harper singled on a bunt and both her and Price came home after an error by the third baseman. The Jayhawks had a 6-1 lead.
Freshman Katie Brooks made her Jayhawk debut in the circle in the bottom of the sixth and made a quick 1-2-3 inning.
The Jayhawks scoring was capped off in the top of the seventh when Gayre led off with a solo home run, solidifying the Jayhawks lead at 7-1.
Gayre and Omli both led the offense going 2-3 at the plate. Gayre had a solo home run and a two-RBI single. Omli had a single and scored in the first and a one RBI double.
Game 2 – Kansas 13, Bradley 8
The Jayhawks erased a six-run deficit in their second game of the season. Kansas trailed 6-0 after two-and-a-half innings, but answered in a big way.
Kansas came right back in the bottom of the third by putting up six runs to tie the game 6-6. The Jayhawks were at the top of their order and led off with back-to-back walks from Espy and Omli. Anderson stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI single to bring home Espy and advance Omli to third. Anderson advanced to second on the throw.
The next at-bat, Gayre doubled to right center, driving in Omli and Anderson and forcing Bradley to change pitchers. Hornbuckle walked in the next at-bat. Lyric Moore followed and her single brought in Gayre and put Hornbuckle at third. Haleigh Harper reached first base on an error, Hornbuckle came home and Moore advanced to third.
The Jayhawks’ scoring in the bottom of the third was concluded when Moore stole home during Espy’s at-bat.
"I was just really proud of how we responded to being down 6-0 in the third inning. Bradley never quit and neither did we, we just kept pounding and finding ways to put more runs up on the board. "Head Coach Jennifer McFalls
In the bottom of the fourth, the Jayhawks took the lead 7-6 when Anderson hit a solo home run down the left field line.
After a quick three up and three down in the top of the fifth, the Jayhawk bats were hot again. Harper and Espy had back-to-back singles and both stole bases to put both runners in scoring position. Omli stepped up to the plate and hit her second double of the day and brought both runners home.
Anderson’s fly-out allowed Omli to advance to third. Gayre singled up the middle, which drove in Omli and gave the Jayhawks a 10-6 advantage.
The Braves attempted to make a comeback in the top of the sixth by putting up two more runs and cutting the deficit to two at 10-8. Brooks ended the inning with a strikeout, stranding two Bradley runners on base.
The Jayhawks answered in the bottom of the sixth, adding three more runs. Espy walked with two outs and Omli followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Anderson had an RBI single and advanced to second on the throw. Espy scored and Omli advanced to third. With the Jayhawks up 11-8, a wild pitch allowed Omli to come home and Anderson to take third. Gayre followed by singling up the middle which allowed Anderson to come home and Jayhawks to move to a 13-8 lead.
Gayre again led the offense going 3-4 with four RBI, followed by Anderson going 3-5 with three RBI and Omli going 2-4 with two RBI.
“The rest of the weekend is going to be tough, there’s nothing easy about the rest of the weekend. It’s going to be a really long day tomorrow, later in the weekend it becomes more of a mental challenge. Hopefully we can just stay at it and we can just stay focused and keep pounding,” McFalls said.
Kansas will continue its play in the GCU Tournament tomorrow first with Fordham at 4:30 p.m. CT, followed by the host, Grand Canyon at 9:15 p.m. CT. The game against Grand Canyon will be streamed on ESPN+.