Kansas Falls Short at No. 24 Fresno State, 5-3

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FRESNO, Calif. – Kansas softball had several opportunities to take down No. 24 Fresno State, but halted rallies and 11 Jayhawks left on base helped the Bulldogs hold on to a 5-3 victory Friday night at Margie Wright Diamond.
In the final three innings against the nationally-ranked Bulldogs, Kansas (3-4) had the tying or go-ahead run at the plate as the frame came to an end. Fresno State ace Jill Compton worked her way out of each jam to improve to 4-0 on the season.
“On a positive we created a lot of opportunities, but on the negative, and what we need to work on, coming through with clutch hits,” said head coach Megan Smith. “I feel like we didn’t do that today, but created so many opportunities against an unbelievable pitcher. There were a lot of positives to build off today.”
The Jayhawks outhit Fresno State, 8-7, on the night. All eight hits came from a different Jayhawk throughout the lineup. Junior infielder Taylor Dodson put Kansas on the board and cut the Bulldogs lead to on run with her first long ball the season. So far this weekend, KU has scored seven of eight runs off of three home runs. The lone run not plated by a long ball was driven in by a bases-loaded walk.
“We tell the girls you might not be in the starting lineup the first weekend of the season, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Smith said. “We always tell them when your name is called be ready and be prepared. Erin came through in a lot of situations and, obviously, Taylor Dodson came through with that big hit. We need all of our players to contribute and we are seeing some good things.”
Fresno State’s leadoff batter Malia Rivers got aboard after beating out the throw to first base for an infield single. The Bulldogs moved the runner around and a ground out plated the go-ahead run in the opening frame.
Sophomore infielder Jessie Roane reached base to start the second frame, but the Bulldogs ended the threat as Roane was stranded at first as the top half of the inning came to a close.
Fresno State’s designated player Dominque Jackson drove in another Bulldog run in the second, a single to centerfield pushed across the first run of the inning.  Rivers singled through the left side to drive in another run for the Bulldogs, extending Fresno State’s lead, 3-0, before Kansas recorded the final out of the frame.
In the third, Fresno State loaded the bases, but freshman starter Alexis Reid worked her way around the bases-loaded jam and put a zero on the scoreboard. Reid slowed the Bulldog offense after tosses a pair of 1-2-3 innings. The Blue Springs, Missouri native struck out three in her first complete game of the season.
“It was a really tough team that we played, obviously,” said Smith. “Alexis came out a little shaky but settled in and threw some good pitches.”
Junior right fielder Lily Behrmann and sophomore first baseman Daniella Chavez strung together a pair of single to right field to start the top of the fourth. A fielder’s choice gave the Jayhawks runners on the corners before Fresno State retired the side, stranding two more Jayhawks including one in scoring position.
Sophomore outfielder Erin McGinley led off the fifth with a single to centerfield for KU’s third hit of the evening. Dodson hit her first long ball of 2016 cutting Fresno State’s lead, 3-2. Following the two-run homer, senior infielder Chaley Brickey doubled off the centerfield wall, giving Kansas the tying run in scoring position. Kansas loaded the bases after an intentional walk and a single to left field from redshirt sophomore Harli Ridling. Despite the bases being loaded, the Bulldogs recorded the final out stranding the go-ahead run at second base.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum of the defensive stop into the bottom half of the fifth. Fresno State outfielder Kierra Willis launched a long ball over the centerfield fence, as the Bulldogs increased their lead, 5-2.  
For the second-straight inning, Kansas loaded the bases and left the stranded. With the bases full, Behrmann brought home a run advancing all the runners with a walk. Chavez stepped to the plate with bases still full and the go ahead run on first base, but Fresno State’s Compton induced a fly out to end the threat. Kansas headed to the bottom half of the inning trailing, 5-3.
In the top half of the seventh inning, Kansas once again threatened bringing the go-ahead run to the plate, but couldn’t complete the comeback victory. Fresno State held on and escaped with a 5-3 victory.
Kansas softball continues the Fresno State Kickoff on Saturday, Feb. 20 against Sacramento State and Fresno State. First pitch of the day is slated for 1:30 p.m. (CT) against the Hornets.
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