Kansas Rally Falls Short; Drops 4-3 Decision to Northwestern

Chaley Brickey went 1-for-2 with a double, walk and run scored in the loss.
Northwestern 4, Kansas 3
USF Softball Stadium // Tampa, Fla.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
NU 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 4 7 0
KU 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 5 0

Box Score (.pdf)

Batting Leaders
M. Stein 4 0 2 3 0 0
C. Brickey 2 1 1 0 2 0
B. LeBeau 2 1 1 3 0 1
A. Edwards 2 2 2 1 0 0
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
K. Kessler (L, 7-5) 7.0 7 4 4 1 6
K. Wood (W, 7-2) 7.0 5 3 3 6 7

TAMPA, Fla. – Junior Maddie Stein knocked in a run in the bottom of the seventh, one of her three RBI in the game, but Kansas was unable to drive another runner across the plate to force extra innings as the Jayhawks fell, 4-3, to Northwestern in the first game of the Under Armour Showcase at the USF Softball Stadium Friday.
“I like the fight (from our team),” head coach Megan Smith said. “Northwestern punched us with four runs, but we kept fighting back and just kind of ran out of time.”
Kansas (11-7) jumped on Northwestern (12-4) and starting pitcher Kristen Wood early by posting two runs in the bottom of the first. Alex Jones drew a one-out, four-pitch walk and advanced to third on a double by Chaley Brickey, her fifth of the season. Stein drove both Jayhawk runners home with her fifth double of the year on a ball lifted over the centerfielder’s head.
KU’s Kelsey Kessler was challenged each of the first three innings by the Wildcats, but stranded a runner in all three frames. However in the fourth, after allowing a leadoff walk, Northwestern’s Anna Edwards hit a double to the gap in right-centerfield.  With runners on second and third, Brianna LeBeau crushed the first Kessler pitch for a three-run home run that bounced off the roof of the batting facility in left field and gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead. It was LeBeau’s second home run of the season.
The Wildcats kept the Kansas offense at bay, before adding an insurance run in the sixth inning when Edwards stroked a home run to straight-away centerfield for a 4-3 lead. 
“You can’t defend home runs and that’s what I tell (the team). Keep the ball in the park and give us a chance,” Smith said. “(Kelsey) didn’t have it today.  Very rarely does she come out and not have it and then not be able to fight through it. Today was a day where she just didn’t have her best stuff.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Lily Behrmann led off the inning with a bunt single for KU. Ashley Newman bunted Behrmann over to second. After a groundout by Jones, Brickey walked on five pitches. Behrmann scored on a single to centerfield by Stein, but the rally ended when Harli Ridling grounded out to third base.
Wood earned the win for the Wildcats and improved to 7-2 on the season. She allowed five hits over seven innings, walking six and striking out seven. Kessler took the loss for the Jayhawks and fell to 7-5 overall. She struck out six, walked only one and surrendered seven hits, including two home runs.
“I think (Northwestern’s) pitcher showed us something new in the middle of the game and we had to adjust to it,” Smith said. “I think our fight was there and our intensity was there against a real good team, we just needed to make better adjustments offensively.”
Stein was the only Jayhawk to post a multi-hit game.
Kansas will be back in action at 3:30 p.m. CT, when the Jayhawks face the hosts South Florida in the second and final game of the day.
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