Pille No-Hitter; Ridling Grand Slam; Kansas Wins, 9-0

Freshman Harli Ridling belted her second-career home run and her first-career grand slam, as well as throwing out two would-be stealers.
Kansas 9, Jackson State 0
JSU Softball Field // Jackson, Miss.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
KU 1 0 1 0 1 2 4 9 15 1
JSU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Box Score (.pdf)

Batting Leaders
L. Behrmann 4 1 4 2 0 0
H. Ridling 5 2 3 4 0 1
M. Stein 5 0 3 3 0 0
Jackson St.
V. Nelson 2 0 0 0 1 0
L. Alkens 2 0 0 0 1 0
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
A. Pille (W, 3-2) 7.0 0 0 0 2 10
Jackson St.
K. Townsend 7.0 15 9 9 3 1

JACKSON, Miss.Lily Behrmann, Harli Ridling and Maddie Stein combined to account for all nine of Kansas’ RBIs, but it was the first-career no-hitter by Alicia Pille that stole the show in the Jayhawks’ 9-0 win Saturday night over Jackson State in the second day of the JSU Softball Tournament.
Pille, who improved to 3-2 on the season and lifted KU’s record to 7-5, sliced her way through the Jackson State (5-8) lineup and faced 22 batters, one over the minimum. She walked two and one JSU batter reached on an error, but Pille finished with 10 strikeouts in her commanding performance. The no-hitter was the 24th in Kansas history and the first since teammate Kelsey Kessler tossed one last season at Texas Tech on April 7, 2013.
“(Alicia) was dominant,” head coach Megan Smith said. “I told the team afterwards that a no-hitter is a lot about mental toughness. You have to have physical toughness and be talented, but you have to have mental toughness. She was tough the entire game against a scrappy Jackson State team. She got better and better as the game went on.”
Supporting the notion of Pille getting stronger as the game unfolded was evidenced in the fifth and sixth innings when she posted five-straight strikeouts. Pille had a range of pitches working for her.
“I was mixing it up pretty well and my rise ball was good,” Pille said. “I was also throwing my change-up for a strike (Saturday) and it really helped me out.”
To ensure the no-hit bid Kansas needed to provide some offense and the Jayhawks had no problem putting runs on the board. Powered by 15 hits, including a career-best 4-for-4 effort by Behrmann, KU gave Pille all the offensive support she needed. Behrmann singled in a run in the third and clubbed her first of two doubles in the fifth to drive home another KU run to finish with a pair of RBI.
“Lilly was on fire,” Smith said. “We have seen flashes from her and we know that she is a freshman and still learning things. She was great – using the short game and showed her power, so she is going to be tough to defend.”
The game’s first run was unassuming at that time, but set the tone for the night. With Ashley Newman on second as a result of a walk and stolen base with two outs in the first inning, Stein put the Jayhawks on the board with a double to left center.
“Offensively we did much better,” Smith said. “With us, we are team of momentum.  If we get one good thing going, everyone will follow. (Against Eastern Illinois) we couldn’t do that, and (versus Jackson State) Maddie got us started.  She is always steady for us and will typically produce in RBI situations, as she did for us (Saturday).”
Stein added two more RBIs in the sixth inning with a single that scored Newman and Ridling. Stein finished with three hits, in addition to her three RBI. Newman scored three of Kansas’ runs and also added two hits.
With KU leading 5-0, Ridling blew the game wide open in the top of the seventh. Behrmann opened the frame with a double, while Alex Jones and Newman each collected infield hits to load the bases. Ridling hopped on a 1-0 pitch and nearly bounced it off the scoreboard in left-centerfield for her first-career grand slam and second home run of the season.
“Harli has been great all year and is phenomenal,” Smith added. “She’s a game-changer and we have been waiting for a while to have a kid come in behind and plate and do what she does. She’s special and we are excited about what she is going to do for the next four years.”
Ridling, who was 3-for-5 at the plate with a double, home run and four RBI, also threw out two Jackson State runners trying to steal in a complete effort.
The Jayhawks will face SIU Edwardsville for the second time in three days Sunday for Kansas’ final game at the Jackson State Tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. CT.
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