No. 23 Kansas Powers Past Idaho State, 10-2
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The list of firsts at Rock Chalk Park grew on Saturday afternoon after senior infielder Chanin Naudin launched the first Kansas home run during the second game of the Jayhawk Invitational. Naudin’s long ball was one of 14 KU hits that propelled the No. 23 Jayhawks to a shortened 10-2 decision over Idaho State.
“When you are in this new park everything is historic,” said head coach Megan Smith. “You want your seniors to be able to leave their mark at this park because they’ve spent three years waiting for this. For Pille to come out and get the first win (yesterday) and Chanin to get the first home run it’s fitting. It’s special for those two to leave their mark here.”
The three-run home run from Naudin in the fourth inning capped off an offensive explosion that saw Kansas (23-2) post 10 runs on 13 hits in two frames to seal its second win of the weekend, and its ninth run-rule victory of the year.
“I was just excited that I was able to do that,” Naudin said of her long ball. “I couldn’t be more thankful for what we have now. A few years ago, I would’ve never thought it was possible to have a complex this or a team that is this great. It’s incredible what we’ve done and become, so it’s awesome to be a part of it.”
Senior utility Maddie Stein began the scoring frenzy in the third inning with a RBI single to give the Jayhawks the lead and never looked back. Freshman Daniella Chavez drove in the second run of the game with a double down the right field line, while junior outfielder Shannon McGinley tagged on a third run before the inning was retired.
The offensive spark that was ignited in the third inning carried over to the fourth as the Jayhawks’ lead grew to 10-0 after scoring seven more runs on seven hits. Freshman Lily Behrmann recorded the third-straight single to load the bases with Jayhawks for junior Chaley Brickey, who nearly cleared the bases with a double of the centerfield wall. Brickey’s two-RBI double gave Kansas a 5-0 advantage and still no outs for KU’s offense.
The fourth inning continued in the same manner that the third inning began with Stein and Chavez each driving in their second RBI of the day extending the Jayhawks’ lead, 7-0. Naudin drove in the final Kansas run with her three-run shot over the left field fence, which gave senior right-hander Alicia Pille a 10-0 cushion to work with heading into the fifth frame.
In her 15th start of the year, Pille improved to 14-0 in the circle after tossing another complete game. She struck out two bringing her total of K’s to 23 in her last three outings. Pille recorded four and two-thirds scoreless innings before the Bengals pushed across two unearned runs in the final frame.
“She is locked in and focused,” Smith said of Pille’s performance in the circle. “She is attacking hitters and making good adjustments even when she has an off batter or an off pitch. She is making the adjustment on the next pitch or batter, which is great to see. Idaho State is a really good offensive team, I’ve watched them play several times, so I was really pleased that Pille was able to keep them off balance for that long.”
Although Idaho State led off the game with a hit, Pille settled into a grove tossing scoreless frame after scoreless frame until KU’s offense could give the Jayhawks the lead. Pille has now thrown 12-straight innings without giving up an earned run, which has dropped her ERA to 1.41 on the season.
“She’s incredible and a main reason as to why we are doing so well this season,” said Naudin of Pille’s outing. “It’s our senior year and she has stepped up. She has pitched the games of her life and isn’t leaving anything to chance. She’s going all out and it’s awesome.”
Kansas tallied 14 hits, while the Bengals scattered four over five innings. The Jayhawks have a perfect 20-0 record when recording more hits than the opposition. Brickey finished the day with a team-best three hits, while Naudin collected a team-high three RBIs.
In the midst of a 12-game homestand, KU concludes the Jayhawk Invitational against Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m.
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