No Sweat for Newbies in Kansas Softball's Season Opening Win
BOCA RATON, Florida – Monique Wesley pitched a one-hit, run-rule-shortened shutout and four other Jayhawks making their positional debuts erased any pregame nerves Jayhawk skipper Megan Smith may have had about her team in transition during a season-opening, 8-0 win over Long Island University-Brooklyn Friday morning at FAU Stadium.
Wesley allowed just one base runner and carried a no-hitter through the first out of the fifth inning before surrendering a harmless double to Nicole Archer in her Kansas debut. KU’s junior transfer earned the win and received more than enough run support to help the Jayhawks claim their third season-opener in the last five years. KU’s other first timers – Briana Evans (newcomer), Daniella Chavez (newcomer), Jessie Roane (newcomer) and Taylor McElhaney (position change) – combined to go 5-for-9, half of the Jayhawks’ 10 total hits, and scored four runs.
“You’re always nervous when you don’t know what to expect from players, having not seen them play in games,” Smith said. “They’ve looked great in practice but you don’t know what’s going to happen in a game situation, but they were phenomenal today.
“Monique came out and did a great job in her first start for us. Daniella looked strong at the plate. Bri had a great day overall and we’re really excited about what she’s going to do for us this year. There were a little bit of nerves, but they helped calm them down pretty quickly.”
McElhaney, a sophomore making the transition from outfield to second base, launched her first career home run in the game and finished tied with Shannon McGinley for the team lead with a pair of RBI. Evans and Chavez each tallied two hits in their first action as Jayhawks to tie veterans Chaley Brickey and Maddie Stein for the game high. Brickey added her own blast for Kansas, a deep solo shot to center to mark the 17th of her career. A total of six different Jayhawks recorded hits in the contest.
Monique Wesley twirled a one-hit, shutout in her first start for Kansas.
Kansas never trailed in the game and Wesley didn’t have to wait long to get a boost from the offense. After throwing first pitch strikes to all five batters she faced – one batter reached on an error – while hanging a zero on the scoreboard in the top half, Wesley watched as Stein delivered the game’s first run with an RBI single followed by a sacrifice fly by Chanin Naudin.
Kansas led 2-0 after the first inning then piled on six more, including the home runs by Brickey and McElhaney, in the bottom of the third.
“(Taylor McElhaney) works really hard and has been working on her offense quite a bit with Coach (John) Rittman – much improved through practice,” Smith said of her sophomore’s blast to left field. “She got all of that ball and it was really exciting to see. You could see her teammates got really excited that she was able to do that today.”
Wesley wasn’t challenged again until the fifth when she used her leg to knock down a hot shot back to the mound and tossed to first for the first out. Archer doubled, but the Black Birds were retired on back-to-back flyouts to center – two of Evans’ five total putouts in the game.
Kansas was set to return to the field against Georgia Tech following the conclusion of the game and will play a total of five games in three days at the tournament.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.