Bruce Sparks Kansas' Offense in 10-0 Victory
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Nikki Bruce’s two-RBI double sparked Kansas’ offense in the second inning as KU opened the 2014 Jayhawk Invitational with a 10-0 win over Northern Illinois Friday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
Bruce, a native of Overland Park, Kan., was two-for-two on the day with a double and team-high three RBIs. She put the Jayhawks (18-7) on the board in the second inning after clearing the bases with a double off the wall in left center field. Kansas has scored first in 19-of-25 games and owns a 16-3 mark when a Jayhawk crosses home plate first.
After Bruce’s double, fellow senior Ashley Newman increased Kansas’ lead with an RBI single up the middle as the Jayhawks took a 3-0 advantage into the third inning.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler started where she left on Tuesday. She limited the Huskies to one hit and sat down the first nine batters she faced in order, which included striking out the side in the third inning. Kessler struck out a total of six batters and after four shutout innings improved to 11-5 in the circle. She has thrown 23.1 consecutive scoreless innings and hasn’t allowed a run to score in her last four appearances.
In the third inning, junior Chanin Naudin tacked on two more runs for the Jayhawks with a double to right center field. Naudin’s two-RBI double chased the Huskies starter Allyson Hecht from the circle. She gave up five runs on six hits in two and two-thirds innings pitched. The loss drops Hecht’s record to 2-1. Skylar Weinstein took over in the circle and got NIU out of the third inning as Kansas led 5-0.
Junior Maddie Stein started KU’s offensive surge in the fourth inning by driving in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field. Sophomore Chaley Brickey continued the scoring trend after a wild pitch allowed her to cross home plate. Bruce recorded her third RBI and second hit with a single up the middle, while Freshmen Taylor McElhaney and Taylor Dodson pinch hit in the fourth frame and each drove in a run. In all, Kanas scored five runs on three hits in the bottom of the fourth to take a 10-0 lead into the fifth inning.
Junior Beth Wilson came on in relief for Kansas in fifth frame. She struck out one and allowed one hit in her second appearance of the season. Wilson kept the Huskies’ offense silent and sealed the 10-0 win for the Jayhawks.
Kansas’ shutout performance against Northern Illinois marks the fourth-straight game where the Jayhawks have posted a shutout. It is also the third game in a row that KU has run-ruled its opponent.
The Jayhawks will play Jackson State on Saturday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m., which will air on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3 with Nate Bukaty and Maggie Hull-Tietz calling the action. Due to impending poor weather conditions on Sunday, Kansas’ game against No. 14 Nebraska has been pushed up to Saturday, March 15 at 6 p.m. The 6 p.m. game against the Cornhuskers will conclude the 2014 Jayhawk Invitational.
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