More Late-Inning Heroics Propel No. 22 Kansas Past Indiana State, 5-4
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The come-from-behind magic that concluded last weekend lingered for No. 22 Kansas’ midweek matchup as the Jayhawks rallied for four runs in the final two innings to down Indiana State, 5-4, on Tuesday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
The comeback victory is the second-straight, and sixth of the season, for Kansas, who has a 6-2 mark when trailing in the fourth inning. For the 22nd time this season, the Jayhawks outhit its opponents after posting 12 hits to the Sycamores nine. KU has a perfect 22-0 mark when outhitting its opposition.
“We believe in ourselves and we believe we are never out of a game,” head coach Megan Smith said of the Jayhawks’ comeback. “We are fighters and work hard until the end of the game. Today our No. 9 hitter came up big and won the game for us.”
The Jayhawks entered the bottom half of the sixth inning trailing the Sycamores by a run, which didn’t phase KU’s offense as two Jayhawks recorded back-to-back singles putting the go ahead run on base. Sophomore Taylor McElhaney stepped up to the plate and delivered a line drive off the wall in left center, good for the third double of the day. McElhaney’s two-RBI double gave Kansas its first lead since the opening frame.
“Taylor is great under pressure and has been for the last two seasons,” Smith said. “Anytime we are down or it’s a tough game and she’s leading off an inning more than likely she is going to come up with something good. I could tell she was going to do something. We had been talking about hitting the ball on the line, she made the adjustment and did that.”
The Jayhawks’ offensive rally began in the fifth inning after scoring two runs with two outs to make it a one-run ballgame. In the past two come-from-behind victories, Kansas has scored six runs with two outs. Sophomore outfielder Lily Behrmann jumped started the comeback with a double and junior infielder Chaley Brickey traded spots with Behrmann after hitting a double of her own. The offensive boost gave Kansas momentum in the home half of the fifth inning. Following Brickey’s RBI double, senior utility Maddie Stein launched a single to right field sending Brickey home to bring the Jayhawks within one run.
In the opening frame, freshman infielder Daniella Chavez gave Kansas the lead after hitting a line drive to right field plating the first run of the day. The base knock gave the Crowley, Texas native her 28th RBI of the year making her second on the team in RBIs. KU has scored first in 20 of its 27 games and is 20-0 when scoring first.
“I am really happy with Daniella Chavez and I think she is clutch for us,” said Smith. “She gets things started for us offensively.”
Although the Jayhawks struck first, the Sycamore answered with four runs, which would go unanswered until Kansas late-inning rally. Indiana State evened the score in the third inning after senior utility Megan Stone hit an RBI double to center field. The Sycamores took the lead with a second run in the third frame. Indiana State added to its lead with a run in the fourth and fifth innings.
Kansas used a combination of pitchers to help keep the Sycamore hitters off balance. Junior Monique Wesley got the starting nod and pitched the first three innings, striking out one batter. Sophomore Sophia Templin and freshman Bryn Houlton made their 10th and seventh appearances of the season, respectively, each throwing an inning of relief.
In the sixth inning, Alicia Pille entered the circle making her fourth relief appearance of the year. She sat the final six batters she faced in order, including striking out three. Pille earned the victory and improved to 15-0 during her senior campaign. Despite keeping KU’s offense at bay to start, Indiana State’s ace Taylor Lockwood recorded the loss after striking out two in five and a third innings.
The Jayhawks host the Rock Chalk Challenge March 20-22 and will kickoff the tournament by playing Eastern Michigan at 1 p.m. and UMKC at 3:30 p.m. on Friday March 20 at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
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