Kansas Splits Doubleheader at Saint Louis

Senior Nikki Bruce hit a two-run home run against Saint Louis during Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Saint Louis 4, Kansas 3 (9)
Billiken Sports Complex // Saint Louis, Mo.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KU 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 11 0
SLU 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 4 12 1

Box Score (.pdf)

Kansas 10, South Dakota State 0 (6)
Billiken Sports Complex // Saint Louis, Mo.
1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
KU 3 0 0 1 1 5 10 13 0
SLU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1

Box Score (.pdf)

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ST. LOUIS – Freshman Harli Ridling launched a pair of home runs against Saint Louis as Kansas softball split a doubleheader with the Billikens on Wednesday night at the Billiken Sports Complex. The Jayhawks (20-9) lost the opening game, 4-3, in extra inning, but bounced back to win, 10-0, in the night cap.
“In the first game we came out flat and lacked focus,” said head coach Megan Smith. “In the second game, we came out intense and executed in all aspects. We got back to what has made us successful so far this season.”
A pitcher’s duel ensued in the first game of the day with both teams scattering hits in the first five innings. Ridling ended the scoring drought in the sixth inning with a solo home run over the left field fence. She fouled the first pitch of her at bat off her foot, which she shook off, and on the next pitch launched her fifth long ball of the year. Senior Nikki Bruce added to KU’s lead with a home run of her own, a two-run shot also to left field, as Kansas took a 3-0 advantage.
Ridling, a Sentinel, Okla. native, went 4-for-5 in the first game and finished the day 5-for-9 with two home runs, a double and three RBIs.
“Harli hit the ball well day,” Smith said of Ridling’s production at the plate. “She looked good offensively and had some good at bats for us.”
Saint Louis’ Ellie Huffman got a run across for the Billikens in the bottom half of the sixth frame after scoring on a passed ball. SLU added two more runs in the seventh inning to tie the game, 3-3, and send it to extra innings.
Sophomore Kelsey Kessler left the game with no decision in the seventh inning. She struck out nine batters and allowed two earned runs in six and two-thirds innings pitched. Junior Alicia Pille took over in the circle and struck out five batters in two innings of work.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Huffman drove in the winning run for the Billikens with a single to right field. The loss dropped Pille’s mark in the circle to 7-3, while SLU’s starter Brianna Lore improved to 8-7 on the year with the win. She struck out five batters in nine innings.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Jayhawks didn’t waste any time putting runs on the board and took an early 3-0 lead after the first frame. Junior Maddie Stein drove in the first run with a sacrifice bunt and Ridling extended the lead to 3-0 with a two-run shot over the left field wall.
Freshman Taylor McElhaney increased the Jayhawks’ lead with an RBI double to left field in the fourth inning. Stein drove in her second run of the game in the fifth frame after hitting a single down the left field line. Stein’s RBI single grew KU’s lead to 5-0.
Kansas’ offense erupted in the sixth inning scoring five runs on six hits. Senior Alex Jones started the scoring frenzy with an RBI single to left field. The next two Jayhawk runs scored on error by the Billikens’ right fielder, who tried to throw a runner out at home, instead it allowed two KU runs to score. Senior Taylor Hatfield and freshman Taylor Dodson each hit a double to bring in a run as Kansas took a 10-0 lead into the bottom half of the sixth.
Pille struck out the side to end the game and improved to 8-3 in the circle with the win. She struck out seven batters and allowed just two hits. Pille has thrown a complete-game shutout in each of her last three starts. She has given up one earned run in her last 20 innings pitched and dropped her ERA to 1.39 on the season.
“Pille looked great and dominate in the circle,” said Smith. “She was hitting her spots really well and was using her change up to keep the batters off balance. I thought she looked really good out there tonight.”  
Saint Louis pitcher Laney Kneib dropped to 4-4 on the season with the loss in the night cap. She struck out one in six innings of work. In all, Kansas outhit the Billikens 24-14 and had five Jayhawks record a multi-hit game.
The Jayhawks continue its road swing at the Kentucky Tournament March 21-23 in Lexington, KY. KU opens the final non-conference tournament against Kent State on Friday, March 21 at 9 a.m. CT.
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