No. 22 Kansas Edged by Red Raiders, 8-7
LUBBOCK, Texas – Although No. 22 Kansas had built a lead in the first three and half innings, Texas Tech slowly chipped away at the Jayhawks’ advantage and a Red Raider rally in the sixth inning clinched the win, 8-7, on Friday night at Rocky Johnson Field.
The Jayhawks (32-6, 3-4) outhit Texas Tech, 13-9, which included three home runs. The Red Raiders’ (17-23, 1-6) victory marked the first loss for Kansas when outhitting its opponent. KU has a 25-1 record when recording more hits than its opposition.
Five Jayhawks recorded multi-hit efforts in the first game of the series led by senior utility Maddie Stein, who registered a 3-for-3 performance at the plate. Freshman Daniella Chavez led the squad with three RBIs after finishing the night 2-for-3 at the dish. Senior third baseman Chanin Naudin, freshman catcher Jessie Roane and junior outfielder Shannon McGinley rounded out the multi-hit performances.
“I don’t think our pitching showed up tonight and that can’t happen in Big 12 games,” said head coach Megan Smith. “Offensively, we came out really hot and our pitching didn’t support it. Instead of our offense continuing to battle, we just kind of struggled down the stretch. We were hot and cold in that game, offensively.”
The Jayhawks opened the game with four runs on seven hits to set the pace for the first contest of the three-game series. Against the wind, Chavez launched her ninth home run of the season over the left field fence, giving Kansas a 3-0 lead. Kansas’ offense continued to apply pressure and loaded the bases with three singles after Chavez’s long ball. Sophomore Taylor McElhaney extended the lead, 4-0, with a RBI single deep in the hole at shortstop.
In the bottom half of the first inning, Texas Tech matched KU’s homer after senior second baseman Lea Hopson sent a long ball over the right field wall, which cut Kansas’ lead, 4-2.
Stein connected for the Jayhawks’ second home run of the night in the second frame. Stein drilled the scoreboard in right centerfield for her sixth long ball of the year and extended Kansas’ lead, 5-2.
Senior hurler Alicia Pille made her 24th start of the season on Friday night against the Red Raiders. She struck out three in three and a third innings of work. Pille gave up seven hits and six earned runs in a no-decision effort in the circle.
For the third-straight inning, Kansas scored a run via home run after Roane hit her third long ball of the season, increasing the Jayhawks’ advantage, 6-2. It marked the 12th time this season that the Jayhawks have posted multiple home runs in a single game. Twice this season, Kansas has sent the ball over the fence five times in a contest.
The Red Raiders posted three runs in the bottom of the third frame after sophomore third baseman Ashley Fultz hit a three-run long ball to left field. Fultz’s homer marked the fifth of the night between the two programs.
Utility Lily Behrmann walked closer to the top of the single season record book in the fourth inning. The sophomore recorded her 36th base on balls of the year, which is seven walks shy of topping Brickey’s record of 42 set last season. Another walk and single loaded the bases as Kansas attempted to add on to its lead. Naudin plated a run with a sacrifice fly, but Texas Tech doubled up to end the threat. Pille headed back to the circle in the bottom of the fourth with a 7-5 lead to work with.
Texas Tech answered with another home run in the fourth inning, its third of the game, to tie the game, 7-7. All but one of the Red Raiders’ runs were scored via long balls. Sophomore Sophia Templin entered the game with out in the fourth. Down 3-0 in the count, Templin worked her way back to strike out the first batter she faced and retired the final batter of the frame with a fly out. Templin struck out two batters in one and two-thirds innings of relief. The lone hit she surrendered was the first hit allowed in her last three outings.
The ballgame remained tied, 7-7, heading into the sixth inning and the Jayhawks threatened to regain the lead. A base hit followed by a walk and another single loaded the bases, but the Red Raiders recorded back-to-back outs to end the frame unscathed and kept the score even.
Texas Tech applied offensive pressure in the bottom half of the sixth inning, which brought freshman Bryn Houlton to the circle in relief of Templin. The Red Raiders lone run not scored by a home run came in the sixth frame and gave TTU its first lead of the night. The Red Raiders led off the inning with a single and advanced to second base on a passed ball. Catcher Kristi Belshe drove in the winning run for the Red Raiders with a single up the middle.
The Jayhawks entered the final inning trailing by a run, their first deficit of the night, but couldn’t overcome the late rally as the Red Raiders held on to win the first game of the series, 8-7. Houlton, who struck out one in one inning of relief, dropped to 4-2 on the season with the loss, while TTU’s Chandler Moore improved to 7-6 in the circle with the victory over KU.
“We need to improve in all aspects of the game,” said Smith. “We need to not give them any freebies, we had an error and some walks, so we need to make sure we limit those. We need to battle better in the circle and be tougher in the circle. Offensively, we have to have quality at-bats the entire game.”
Due to incoming poor weather conditions expected in the Lubbock area on Saturday, the second game of the series has been moved up to a noon start time in order to complete the game before the inclement weather hits.
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