Brickey's Blast Secures Program-Record 11th Straight Win to Open 2015
GAINESVILLE, Florida – Chaley Brickey blasted open a one-run contest with a three-run shot in the top of the sixth inning, part of a five-run outburst to lift Kansas past Liberty, 10-4, as the Jayhawks claimed a program-record-setting 11th straight win open the season at Pressly Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Kansas and Liberty followed a similar script through five innings of each team’s Aquafina Invitational opener, getting leadoff runners on in each of their run scoring frames. For Kansas it was runs in the first and third innings, with answers from Liberty coming in the third and fifth. In the end, Brickey’s long ball and 2.2 scoreless innings of relief from freshman Bryn Houlton, who threw her first pitches for Kansas, helped the Jayhawks move past the 2011 team’s 10 wins for the best start in program history.
“They’re a really scrappy team, so we expected them to come back and they did,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said of Liberty. “I’m really disappointed with how many free bases we gave them – a lot of hit by pitches and walks – we have to sharpen that up. They fought back, but we continued to tack some runs up on the board and continued to apply pressure on their defense. Eleven straight is awesome, it’s great to be a part of that.”
Kansas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, using three straight hits, including an RBI double from Brickey and a sacrifice fly from Chanin Naudin to tally single scores. It was the first of three hits for Brickey, who finished 3-for-5 with four total RBI.
The Jayhawks put the leadoff on in each of the first three innings, pushing across a total of five runs before Liberty had a chance to answer with runs of its own.
Kansas starter Monique Wesley danced through two scoreless innings – wiggling out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the second – before surrendering her first hits and runs in the third. Flame hitters Tori Zavodny and Megan Robinson knocked the first two hits of the game for Liberty and each scored in the third to make it 5-3. It could’ve been worse for the Jayhawks in the inning, but second baseman Taylor McElhaney made a snag behind the bag up the middle and flipped to Brickey with the bases loaded for the third out.
Both teams went scoreless in the fourth before Liberty had a batter hit by a pitch and another walk to make it three straight Flames half innings with the leadoff reaching. A two-run scoring single by Madi Clarke pulled Liberty within one at 5-4 but Houlton was summoned from the bullpen and needed just five pitches to get out of the jam.
McElhaney reached on an error to lead off the next half inning for Kansas and Lily Behrmann drew a walk to set up Brickey’s three run home run. The insurance runs not only pushed the Jayhawk lead to 8-4, but seemed to deflate the Liberty dugout.
“We didn’t do a good job scoring runs when we had opportunities in the previous innings and Coach Smith had mentioned we needed to step it up and come up with clutch hits,” Brickey said. “I just saw that change-up pretty well and swung at it as hard as I could.”
Kansas loaded the bases after Brickey’s home run and drew a pair of run scoring walks to push the final tally to 10 runs. Houlton allowed a couple base runners in the sixth but worked out of it without allowing a run and worked a 1-2-3 seventh to close out the win.
In all, five Kansas batters had multiple efforts as the team pounded out 14 base knocks. Six Jayhawks scored runs in the victory. Wesley was credited with the victory, her third of the season, and Liberty’s Chandler Ball took the loss.
Kansas was slated to play Illinois State in a game that started 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first contest.
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