Kansas Edges Cowgirls in Extra Innings, 1-0
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Freshman Katelyn Schumacher’s single in the eighth inning proved to be the difference maker as Kansas downed Oklahoma State, 1-0, on Friday night at Arrocha Ballpark in the opening night of the three-game series.
The extra-inning win is the first time that the Jayhawks (25-10, 1-0 Big 12) have opened Big 12 action with a victory under head coach Megan Smith, who is in her fifth season at Kansas. It also improves KU to 3-2 on the year in extra-inning games and 6-2 under Smith in extended contests.
With two KU runners in scoring position and no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Schumacher stepped up to the plate with a chance to end the scoring drought. She hit a single through the left side of the infield allowing the winning run to score.
Sophomore Kelsey Kessler started in the circle and set the tone for the Jayhawks from the start. She sat down the first nine batters she faced in order, including striking out three of the first six Cowgirls. Kessler threw three hitless innings before surrendering the first OSU hit in the fourth inning. On the night, she limited Oklahoma State to five hits scattered over eight innings.
The Blue Springs, Mo., native struck out 13, which is two shy of her career-high, in her 22nd start of the year. Her 13 Ks is the sixth double-digit strikeout effort of her sophomore campaign. Kessler has struck out 184 batters and leads the Big 12 in strikeouts. Coming into Friday night’s game, Kessler was two strikeouts behind the national leader.
The Jayhawks threatened early and often, but weren’t able to get a run across until the late in the game. KU loaded the bases in the bottom half of the first inning and the Cowgirls were able to retire the side without any harm.
Oklahoma State’s Shelby Davis recorded the first Cowgirl hit in the fourth inning, but third base would be as close to home as she got. With two runners on and no outs, Kessler buckled down and recorded the next three outs to end the inning unscathed.
In the sixth inning, Davis again put the go ahead run for OSU 60 feet away with a triple to right-centerfield. Kessler answered and ended the inning by stranding Davis, which kept the pitcher’s duel alive heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Junior Chanin Naudin doubled off left field wall and narrowly missed hitting the game-winning shot over the fence to lead off in the sixth. The Cowgirls’ ace Simone Freeman retired the side before the Jayhawks could bring Naudin home keeping the game scoreless.
Senior Alex Jones led off the seventh inning with a single. A sacrifice bunt and a fly out to centerfield advanced Jones to third base to put the winning run 60 feet away. Freeman and the Cowgirls once again prevailed keeping the scoreless pitcher’s duel intact heading into extra innings.
For the eighth and final time of the night, Kansas’ leadoff batter got aboard. Senior Taylor Hatfield hit a base knock through the left side. Naudin hit her second double of the night as Hatifeld moved to third base bringing up Schumacher. The Hays, Kan., native singled through the left side allowing the game-winning run to cross home plate.
Kessler earned her 15th victory and improved to 15-7 on the season. She tossed her seventh complete game shutout and dropped her ERA to 1.48 in 146.1 innings pitched. Freeman earned the loss and dropped to 14-7 in the circle.
The Jayhawks continue the three-game series against Oklahoma State on Saturday, March 29 at 2 p.m. in Arrocha Ballpark.
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