No. 1 Gators End Kansas' Win Streak
GAINESVILLE, Florida – Kansas became the first team to score on Florida starter Lauren Haeger in the senior All-American’s seventh start of the season, but the Gator ace and No. 3 hitter showed why she’s considered one of the best in the country by driving in six of her of her own runs. Haeger and No. 1-ranked Florida put an end to Kansas’ season-opening win streak with a 7-1 win at Pressly Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Haeger entered the game with just 10 hits allowed in 28 innings pitched and hadn’t been touched for a single run while helping the defending National Champions to a 13-0 start, but it was her bat that proved most detrimental to the Jayhawks efforts. Haeger went 2-for-4 with two extra-base hits that resulted in six of the Gators’ seven runs.
Kansas smacked six hits and drew three walks on offense, ending Haeger’s consecutive shutout innings run at 32 with a run in the top of the fifth. However, Kansas trailed 7-0 at that point after giving up back-to-back big innings in the third and fourth.
“I was actually pleased with our offense, how we hit her,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said. “We did a pretty decent job of attacking her and scratching a run on the board. We had a couple opportunities to score more runs and just didn’t come through. What a talented player. To be able face her and do a pretty decent job offensively, that was great for us.
“She killed us offensively though, but that’s the national player of the week right there and one of the best players in the country. We were forced to pitch to her and she made us pay. What a great team, it was fun to play them.”
Kansas got runners on in each of the first two innings, only to see Haeger and the Gators foil anything further. Haeger didn’t throw a single pitch outside of the strike zone in the third while adding two more strikeouts.
Beth Wilson earned a spot start for Kansas and matched zeros in the first two frames before running into trouble in the third. Chaley Brickey made a sliding stop at short and a throw from one knee for the first out, but Kathlyn Medina followed with a line drive single off Wilson in the circle. A bit shaken, Wilson walked the next batter before a groundout moved both runners into scoring position. Needing just one out to work out of the jam, Haeger struck first with a three-run shot to right center.
Kansas tried to answer in the top of the fourth, loading the bases on a pair of singles by Brickey and Chanin Naudin, and a walk to Daniella Chavez. Haeger moved her scoreless innings streak to 32 innings by retiring two to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, Florida struck again with two outs. Sophia Templin entered for Kansas and got a pop up to second with the bases loaded, but hit the next batter to push across the fourth run and Haeger followed with a double to the wall in left center to push three more across.
The Jayhawks finally got on the board in the fifth after Briana Evans singled, then was moved to second on a sacrifice by Lily Behrmann. Brickey singled, her second hit of the day, into left field and the speedy Evans made it home.
Templin pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings, but a double play in the top of the sixth negated any KU advance and the Jayhawks went quietly in the seventh, ending a program-record win streak at 12 games.
Naudin joined Brickey with a pair of hits and reached a total of three times with a walk.
Kansas was scheduled to play Mercer in a game immediately following its loss to Florida, as the Jayhawks continued competition at the Aquafina Invitational.
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