Chavez Clinches Series Sweep Over Cowgirls in Extra Innings
STILLWATER, Okla. – Freshman Daniella Chavez continued to deliver in clutch situations for No. 23 Kansas as the designated player drove in the game-winning run in the eighth inning to lift the Jayhawks over Oklahoma State, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Cowgirl Stadium.
With a runner in scoring position, Chavez calmly stepped into the batter’s box and registered her first hit of the game. Her base knock dropped in right field allowed the winning run to cross home plate from second base.
“I talk about Daniella coming through for us a lot and being clutch,” said head coach Megan Smith of Chavez’s game-winning single. “It’s her demeanor. She believes she is going to do it, she’s confident and calm. She doesn’t get worked up whether she is 0-2 or 2-2 and has the same approach, which I love. She came through big time for us and is our clutch hitter, no question. When the game is on the line, I want her at the plate.”
Kansas’ (32-5, 3-3) victory in the series finale improved KU to a perfect 3-0 record in extended games and clinched the series sweep. The Jayhawks increased their win streak over the Cowgirls (17-21, 1-5) to six-straight games dating back to the 2014 season.
“Last week was disappointing for us,” Smith said. “We told our players in conference play that sometimes that happens and you have to be ready to bounce back. For us to come to Oklahoma State and sweep here, I am really proud of our players. They worked hard at practice, were committed and believed they could. It’s a great feeling and the first time we’ve won the series in Stillwater since I’ve been here.”
Chavez’s single to right field brought home the winning run, but sophomore pitcher Sophia Templin also had a hand in the win after shutting down OSU’s offense in two scoreless relief innings. Templin struck out three in her 10th outing of the season. The win improved Templin’s record in the circle to 4-1.
“Sophia was brilliant today and came into a pressure packed situation,” Smith said. “She was confident in her stuff and I am proud of the way she has had a lot of resolve throughout the last two years. She has worked hard and not gotten a ton of pitching time as a freshman, but is taking advantage of these opportunities when she gets them. She has been the key for us the last couple of weeks and has come in giving us good innings.”
In the opening frame, OSU had two base runners reach with a single and walk. A pair of stolen bases moved the runners into scoring position, but Kansas starter Alicia Pille retired the side and slowed the Cowgirls’ offense with her first strikeout of the afternoon.
The Cowgirls continued to pressure offensively and took the lead in the second frame with a RBI single to centerfield from senior outfielder Shelby Davis. The lead wouldn’t stand for long before KU’s offense would put runs on the board and take a one-run advantage.
Junior shortstop Chaley Brickey tied the game in the third inning with a RBI double to right centerfield. Senior utility Maddie Stein stepped into the batter’s box and traded places with Brickey to give Kansas its first lead of the game, 2-1.
Oklahoma State put the tying run on board and in scoring position after OSU’s Vanessa Shippy doubled to right field. Pille retired the next two batters in order to halt the offensive threat and strand Shippy at second base as KU headed to the fourth inning with a 2-1 lead.
The pitcher’s duel continued in the fourth frame as both starters, Pille and Brandi Needham, tossed 1-2-3 innings. Pille struck out eight batters in six innings of work, while allowing two runs, one of which was earned. Needham fell to 10-10 on the season for Oklahoma State after the loss in the circle. She struck out three Jayhawks in eight innings of work.
“(Alicia) Pille had a great start,” said Smith. “She got hit a little bit Thursday, we went back to her today and she was lights out. She did an incredible job coming back from her start Thursday. I thought she had control of her pitches and was more confident today. Obviously, Pille and Sophia are the reason we win that game by keeping their offense at bay for as long as they did.”
In the fifth inning, OSU tied the ballgame for the second time with a sacrifice fly to left field. Davis reached with a single and advanced on an error. She moved to third base on a ground out and came home after third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson flew out to left field.
Oklahoma State had two runners in scoring position, including the go ahead run on third base, in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Pille once again came through for the Jayhawks to end the frame with her eighth strikeout of the day and didn’t allow the Cowgirls to capitalize on their runner standing 60 feet from home plate. Templin took over in the circle in the seventh and sat the OSU batters down in order to send the contest into extra games.
In the eighth inning, utility Lily Behrmann led off with single up the middle and a ground out advanced the sophomore into scoring position. Chavez drove in the game-winning run with a base hit that chopped over first base into right field allowing Behrmann to score. Templin returned to the circle in the bottom half of the inning with a 3-2 lead.
Oklahoma State led off the home half of the eighth with a walk and a sacrifice bunt advanced OSU’s runner to second base. The next Cowgirl batter flew out to center field giving the Jayhawks two outs, but the tying run moved to third base. As the pressure mounted, Templin remained calm and struck out the final batter she faced to end the game, giving KU the win, 3-2.
START TIMES AT TULSA CHANGED
Kansas is set to play two games at Tulsa April 18-19 and the coaches have decided to push back first pitch for both contests to 2 p.m.
Kansas continues its eight-game stretch away from Arrocha Ballpark with a three-game series at Texas Tech April 10-12, inside Rocky Johnson Stadium. The series kicks off on Friday, April 10 at 6 p.m.
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