Stein, Kessler Deliver Shutout Win Over SIU, 4-0
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Kansas first baseman Maddie Stein couldn’t get it done through the air so the next chance she got, she delivered on the ground. After stranding a runner on third in the top of the first with a fly ball to center, Stein drove in two with a grounder up the middle in the top of the third, the first of four runs in a Kansas shutout of Southern Illinois, 4-0, at Frost Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Stein broke the seal for Kansas (9-5), who left three runners in scoring position through the first two innings before erupting for four runs in the top half of the third. It was plenty of support for starting pitcher Kelsey Kessler, who earned her third win in four games and posted back-to-back shutouts by holding the Salukis (6-6) without a run.
Kansas watched the first seven pitches from Saluki starter Alyssa Wunderlich miss the zone, allowing No. 2 hitter Ashley Newman to bunt leadoff batter Alex Jones into scoring position just minutes into the game. Ridling moved Jones to third to give Stein her first RBI opportunity but a hard hit liner was caught in the gap by the centerfielder to keep the Jayhawks off the board.
Kansas threatened further in the second inning, again getting the leadoff batter on. Chaley Brickey found herself in an 0-2 hole but worked the count full and battled through 10 total pitches to draw the leadoff walk. Again, the Jayhawks sacrificed and moved the runner in scoring position but a pair of fly outs ended the threat.
The second time through the order, Kansas found a way to break the game open. Jones led off the third inning with an infield single and Newman beat out a throw on another sacrifice attempt before both runners were advanced by Ridling’s sacrifice. That’s when Stein punched a grounder through the middle of the infield two score both speedsters. Brickey put an exclamation point on the inning with a two-run blast to left in the next at-bat, the first of her two hits in the game.
Once she got a lead, Kessler went into lockdown mode, striking out seven of 11 batters from the fourth through sixth innings, including retiring the side on strikes in the sixth. Kessler retired the side in order in the seventh to clinch the win. In all, Kessler scattered two hits – both to SIU leadoff batter Taylor Orsburn – walked one, and hit one in seven innings, in addition to tallying eight strikeouts.
Brickey (2) and Newman (2) each tallied multi-hit games for Kansas
Kansas will continue play at the Coach B Classic with a Saturday night cap against Murray State, originally slated to begin at 3 p.m. (CT), and will match-up with Miami (Ohio) and play another against Murray State on Sunday at Frost Stadium.
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