Jayhawks Walk-off as Winners in Extras Against Stony Brook

Box Score (.pdf)

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Three weekends and 16 games into the season, Kansas softball is still finding new ways to win. After rattling off twelve straight with run-rule, come-from-behind, slug-fest, and plain old ordinary victories, the Jayhawks won their first extra-inning affair, a 5-4 decision in 10 innings over Stony Brook to open the UNF Tournament Friday morning and improve to 15-1.

Kansas rallied from a 2-0 deficit after four innings with single runs in the fifth and sixth to pull even with the Seawolves (2-4), then rallied twice in extras as Stony Brook scored the tiebreak runner in the eighth and ninth. The Jayhawks held SBU scoreless in the top of the 10th then loaded the bases before Jessie Roane drove in the game winner.

The Jayhawks out-hit Stony Brook 13-4, but stranded 12 total baserunners, including twice grounding into double plays with the bases loaded. Freshman reliever Bryn Houlton (1-0) allowed just one hit in seven innings of work to earn her first win in her third appearance for Kansas.

“We fought to the end, which is what our team does,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said. “To be honest, I wasn’t real pleased with our demeanor coming out of the gate, I think that we sat back on our heels for the first few innings and just expected things to happen instead of making them happen. I was disappointed with that. But, I’m always pleased with the fight that our team shows – they never give up, they never quit. That was really great. I think the key to the game was Bryn Houlton. Her coming in and doing what she did was huge for our team.”

Kansas was fortunate to see extra innings after allowing the Stony Brook leadoff batter to reach in each of the first five innings. Twice, the leadoff batter scored, including a single run in the third and a solo home run in the fourth to put the Seawolves up 2-0. Bria Green’s blast to left chased Kansas starter Monique Wesley.

That’s when Houlton, who earned a save last weekend while making her first and second appearances of the season at the Aquafina Invitational, took control of the game. Houlton retired 12 of the next 13 batters she faced, giving up a leadoff single in the top of the fifth before breaking the trend in the sixth and seventh.

“That can’t happen at our level,” Smith said of Stony Brook’s first-batter success. “If you let the leadoff on every time, teams are going to score off of you – we can’t have that.  

“I was really happy with Bryn coming in and taking care of that, and not doing that. She did a really good job of hitting her spots and keeping them off balance, and let our defense work. We have a great defense so our pitchers need to let them work and that’s exactly what she did, it was great.”

Offensively, Kansas had trouble coming up with a timely hit in the early going. The Jayhawks had base runners on in three of the first four innings, even loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but a double play helped the Seawolves sneak out of the jam.

Kansas loaded the bases again in the fifth and managed just one run on a Maddie Stein single through the infield before another double play saw Stony Brook wriggle away with minimal damage.

With Houlton notching back-to-back strikeouts to end the top of the sixth, Kansas looked to give its pitchers a lift and got the loudest hit of the day off the bat of Shannon McGinley. The junior left fielder roped a ball down the left field line and raced into third with a one out triple. Jessie Roane followed with a single up the middle to knot the game up at 2-2, but the surge would stall.

“I thought we had good at-bats, we just didn’t execute with runners in scoring position early in the game,” Smith said. “We had the bases loaded a couple times, then a weak ground ball double play. I was happy with our at-bats, we just didn’t produce in clutch situations early, but then that changed later.”

Both teams went scoreless in the seventh, sending the game to extras where the international tiebreak rule put a runner on second to start each half inning. Stony Brook took advantage of the pressure first despite failing to get a bunt down in the first at-bat. A pair of Houlton wild pitches scored the go-ahead run, but a pair of flyouts ended the top half.

Kansas took its turn in the bottom half and put two in scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Roane, but a failed squeeze play at home in the next at-bat had the Seawolves one out from handing KU its second loss of the season. Briana Evans tapped a ball back to the pitcher but used her speed to beat the throw to first as McGinley scored the tying run.

The Seawolves used a sacrifice and ground out to go ahead again in the top of the ninth, then Stein provided KU’s answer in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly to left to plate Lily Behrmann.

Houlton and the Jayhawks finally held Stony Brook scoreless in the 10th, taking the sacrifice out, then the freshman hurler snagged a liner back to the circle before striking out Kellie Reynolds to end the top half.

Kansas loaded the bases for the third time in the game and Roane made it count with an infield single to push across Chanin Naudin for the game-winner.
Evans and Chaley Brickey led Kansas with three hits each, with Stein (2) and Roane (2) also collecting multi-hit performances. McGinley reached three times, drawing a pair of walks in addition to her triple – Kansas’ first of the season – and scored two runs.

The extra-inning affair pushed back the schedule for the rest of the UNF Tournament, but the Jayhawks were slated to play the tournament-host Lady Ospreys in the third game of the tournament later Friday afternoon.

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