Spartans Late Offensive Surge Downs Kansas, 12-8
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kansas softball headed into the bottom of the sixth frame with a three run lead over UNC Greensboro, but a late offensive surge for nine runs helped the Spartans come from behind to down Kansas, 12-8, on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the River City Classic.
The Jayhawks (2-3) owned the lead for five and half innings until the late-inning rally from UNCG stole the lead, which Kansas couldn’t reclaim before the final out was made. The top of the seventh mirrored the half inning before after KU pushed across a pair of runs and loaded the bases with an opportunity to tie the game, but the Spartans ended the Kansas threat and left the bases loaded.
“This weekend was a learning weekend,” said head coach Megan Smith. “That’s how we are approaching it, we’re disappointed, but we’re learned a lot about our team. These types of lessons are invaluable and it’s just the first weekend. Like I told the team, ‘Your season not determined by how you do your first weekend.’ So we will get back to work this week.”
Seven of Kansas’ eight runs on the day were driven home by a Jayhawk long ball. Sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez continued her streak, clearing the fence for the third game in a row. Senior Shannon McGinley launched her first career home run for three more runs, while sophomore utility Jessie Roane hit her second homer of the weekend.
“The young players that are getting their names called quite a bit are learning a lot about what it takes to play at this level,” said Smith. “We had a lot of people get opportunities this weekend, which is a very big positive.”
Junior outfielder Lily Behrmann got the offense started in the opening frame with a single to right field. Senior infielder Chaley Brickey moved Behrmann to third base after doubling off the wall in left centerfield. With two runners in scoring position, Chavez stepped up to the plate. The Crowley, Texas native delivered her third home run of the season, giving Kansas an early 3-0 lead.
Sophomore right-hander Andie Formby made her third start in the circle in the final game of the River City Classic. She struck out the first batter she face and ended the first inning with a K. In between strikeouts, the Spartans cut into Kansas’ lead after freshman pitcher Stephanie Bryden plated two runs with a double to left centerfield.
A two-out Jayhawk rally gave KU two runners aboard in the second frame, but Bryden retired the side before Kansas could extend its lead. After Kansas threatened in the top half of the frame, Formby handled the Spartan offense sitting down all three batters she faced via strikeout.
UNCG’s Nicole Thomas tied the game after driving in her sister, Lindsay Thomas, with a single to right field. Despite tying the game, Chavez snagged a line drive and stepped on first base for a double play to end the inning, preventing further harm.
Each squad got the go ahead runner in scoring position in the fourth, but neither offense could capitalize as the ballgame remained tied, 3-3, after four complete innings.
In the top of the fourth, Kansas led off the frame with a pair of singles put two runners on, as McGinley came up to bat. The senior blasted her first career home run over the fence in right field, regaining the lead for Kansas, 6-3.
Freshman Alexis Reid took over for Formby in the fifth inning with one out. Formby struck out five in four and third innings of work. The Orange, California native allowed three runs and seven hits in her third appearance of 2016. Reid retired the frame with back-to-back strikeouts.
The Spartans claimed its first lead, which was sustained to the end of the ballgame, after scoring nine runs on six hits in the bottom of the sixth frame. The first two runs were plated via RBI singles, while the next two were walked in. Another RBI single followed by a grand slam turned a three-run deficit into a six-run lead for UNCG.
The Jayhawks answered in the next half inning scoring two runs and once again bringing the tying run to the plate, but Bryden and the Spartans held off KU’s rally to win, 12-8. Bryden struck out seven in her second appearance against the Jayhawks.
Kansas softball continues its road swing in California at the Fresno State Kickoff Classic Feb. 19-21, hosted by Fresno State. The Jayhawks will play a total of five games during the second weekend of the year against the Bulldogs, Sacramento State and UC Riverside.
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