No. 22 Kansas Outlasts Georgia State, 8-6
LAWRENCE, Kan. — No. 22 Kansas softball won its ninth-straight game after outlasting Georgia State, 8-6, in the its third game of the Rock Chalk Challenge and improving to 7-0 at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Jayhawks’ offense was led by freshman infielder Daniella Chavez’s multi-hit effort, her eighth of the season, as she posted three hits, including a three-run home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. The Crowley, Texas native continued to be a constant offensive threat in the Jayhawks’ (28-2) victory, reaching base in all four plate appearances.
“She’s locked in and having really good at-bats,” head coach Megan Smith. “She has such a calm mindset and she’s very confident in herself. Every time she comes up, I know she has a game plan and she’s going to stick with her game plan. She kept on attacking and producing for us.”
Sophomore outfielder Lily Behrmann got things started off for the Jayhawks after bouncing the ball off of the left field wall, recording her first career triple. Junior infielder Chaley Brickey continued to wear out the Panther’s left fielder by hitting a single to the gap and sending Behrmann home to plate Kansas’ first run of the game.
Defensively, Brickey grabbed a web gem on the third base line just to turn and make an acrobatic throw to second, initiating a double play that would trigger Georgia State’s third out in the top of the first inning.
“We had a couple big plays defensively,” Smith said of KU’s defensive efforts. “Chaley’s obviously was a huge play in stopping Georgia State’s momentum. They are a great offensive team and we knew that, which is why we wanted to play them. We want to test our pitching staff and our defense.”
The momentum from the double play would carry over to the second frame. With Brickey on base and senior infielder Maddie Stein drawing a walk, Chavez worked her magic at the plate, recording a team-best sixth long ball of the season, giving Kansas a four-run advantage to start the game.
After lighting up the scoreboard with four runs and four hits, KU’s offense chased Georgia State’s starting pitcher Chelsea Stanfield out of the circle in the first inning. The Panthers would bring in sophomore Taylor Thorpe to relieve Stanfield. Thorpe would toss five and two thirds of an inning, registering three earned runs and striking out four Jayhawks.
While the Jayhawks gave the Panther hurlers trouble, Kansas’ senior pitcher Alicia Pille outlasted a few threats from GSU’s offense to throw another victorious complete game. Pille struck out seven batters to register her 17th win in the circle this season.
Georgia State’s first threat came with a pair of solo home runs from sophomore Megan Litumbe and senior Lauren Coleman, who brought the panthers within two, trailing 4-2 after the second inning.
Kansas continued to work its opponents pitching staff recording a pair of walks to kick-off the second inning. Stein laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance runners into scoring position sending the Jayhawk’s offensive weapon, Chavez, into the batter’s box. She didn’t disappoint, connecting for a RBI base knock to shallow center field, her fourth RBI of the day.
GSU struck again in the third inning after freshman Ivie Drake stepped into the batter’s boxes with a runner on second contributed a RBI double to keep the Panthers within two.
KU kept its scoring streak alive after freshman catcher Jessie Roane hit a bullet that the Panthers’ shortstop Taylor Anderson couldn’t stop, plating a Jayhawk run for the fourth consecutive inning and giving KU the lead, 7-3.
Senior infielder Chanin Naudin tacked on an insurance run for the Jayhawks in the home half of the sixth inning after ripping a solo shot over the left center field wall, Giving Kansas’ 8-3 lead over a Georgia State squad that boasts a 21-6 record on the 2015 season.
Georgia State, who found themselves in a five run deficit heading into the seventh inning, tried to rally back. The Panthers would come up short, but not without a fight from Litumbe, who hit a two-run home run, her second home run of the day, to bring GSU within two once again.
Four Jayhawks recorded a multi-hit game in the outing against the Panthers. Chavez (3-for-4), Roane (3-for-4), Behrmann (2-for-2) and Naudin (2-for-3) contributed to Kansas’ 11 hits on the day with multi-hit performances at the plate.
Kansas concludes the Rock Chalk Challenge with a morning matchup against Georgia State Sunday, March 22 at 10:30 a.m., inside Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
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