No. 22 Kansas Evens Series with Extra-Inning Victory
LUBBOCK, Texas – The senior duo of Maddie Stein and Chanin Naudin came up big in the 10th inning, delivering five runs to give the Jayhawks the lead and momentum to lift No. 22 Kansas past Texas Tech, 11-9, on Saturday afternoon at Rocky Johnson Field.
The Jayhawks (33-6, 4-4 Big 12) have played four extended inning games in 2015 and have an unblemished 4-0 mark in extra innings after Stein and Naudin’s 10th-inning heroics put Kansas on top, a lead that wouldn’t be relinquished and evened the series, 1-1, against the Red Raiders (17-24, 1-7 Big 12).
“Our offense chipped away and got some things going,” said head coach Megan Smith. “We kept putting pressure on them, which I liked. Maddie was clutch with that hit and Chanin was huge coming through with the home run to score two more runs in that inning. I wasn’t sure five was going to be enough, but lucky for us it was.”
Texas Tech scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings. For the next two frames each team’s pitcher put zeros on the board and attempted to regain the lead, but couldn’t push a run across. It wasn’t until the 10th inning that Kansas would break the tie and take the lead. With the bases loaded, Stein entered the batter’s box and perfectly placed a double to left center field giving Kansas a three-run advantage. Naudin added two more runs to the Jayhawks’ lead with a towering home run to left field. KU headed out of the dugout in the bottom of the 10th with senior Alicia Pille in the circle and five-run lead.
“It was disappointing in the bottom of the seventh, obviously, we got the lead hoping we could finish it off, but give a lot of credit to Texas Tech,” Smith said. “They are gritty, they fought offensively to come back and tie it up.”
The Red Raiders attempted to match KU’s five runs in the home half of the 10th, but came up short only scoring three runs on two home runs, but Pille ended the rally as the Jayhawks held on for the win. Pille earned her 20th win of the season in the circle, she becomes the first Jayhawk pitcher to reach the 20-win mark since 2001 when Kara Pierce collected 22 victories.
“What I loved was that (Alicia) Pille came out and put up zeros,” said Smith. “She struggled with that yesterday, but she came out in a critical situation today and put up zeros giving our offense some more time to figure their pitcher.”
Junior Chaley Brickey reached base with her first of four walks on the day and advanced to third base with the help of a ground out and a wild pitch. However, Brickey would remain at third and stranded 60 feet from home as the Red Raiders ended the offensive attack and the top of the opening frame.
Freshman Bryn Houlton made her fifth start of the year and second during Big 12 Conference action on Saturday. She tossed a 1-2-3 inning to begin the game with the help of a diving catch by junior Shannon McGinley in left field, which helped set the tone that Kansas would fight to the last pitch. Houlton struck out one in six innings of work. She surrendered six hits and two earned runs in her no decision.
“Bryn Houlton threw excellent today,” said Smith. “I was excited about her start, how composed she was and how she handled their hitters, who put up a lot of runs against us yesterday. I was really excited about her outing and thought she did a great job.”
The Jayhawks led off the second inning with a pair of base hits, but the Red Raiders halted Kansas’ offensive charge by sitting the next three batters down to end the inning. In the bottom half of the second inning, Texas Tech posted its first hit of the game after Kristi Belshe singled up the middle. She advanced to second with a stolen bases, but Houlton retired the side unscathed stranding Belshe and stopping Texas Tech’s first threat of the game.
Just like the start of the game, Brickey led off the third inning with a walk. Sophomore utility Lily Behrmann moved Brickey into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but the next two batters were retired in order, stranding Brickey at second, and keeping the ballgame tied, 0-0.
With their second hit of the game, the Red Raiders would take a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the third inning. Sophomore outfielder Susan Welborn hit a solo shot over the wall in left field breaking up the tie and giving Texas Tech a one-run advantage after three frames.
Kansas answered in the fourth with a one-out rally to take its first lead of the second game in the series after scoring three runs on four hits. Naudin led off the inning with a single to the shortstop and moved into scoring position with a ground out. McGinley tied the contest after doubling off the wall in left field allowing Naudin to come home. Junior outfielder Briana Evans extended the rally recording another double to left field plating McGinley as KU took a one-run lead. Brickey continued the fourth-inning rally with a RBI single through the left side, which increased KU’s lead, 3-1.
Houlton and the Jayhawk defense got the offense back to the plate quickly after sitting the Texas Tech batters down in order in the home half of the fourth inning. KU’s hitters picked up where they left off in the fifth frame. Stein reached first after recording her second hit of the day, a single to center field. Freshman Daniella Chavez hit one to left field, which landed on the top of the fence and bounced over for her 10th home run of the year. Chavez’s long ball increased the Jayhawk lead, 5-1.
After Chavez’s homer, Texas Tech went to its bullpen as senior Chandler Moore entered in relief of TTU’s starter Cara Custer. Custer tossed four and a third innings, striking out two, in her no decision. Moore dropped to 7-7 on the year in the circle with the loss. She threw five and a third innings, while striking out one.
Kansas’ offense only got hotter as the game drew on. The Jayhawks loaded the bases in the sixth frame after recording a pair of base hits and walk. For the second-straight game, Kansas’ offense recorded double-figure hits and have collected a total of 29 hits so far against Texas Tech in two games. A fielder’s choice kept the bases loaded as the Red Raiders tagged the KU runner out at home. Sophomore Taylor McElhaney would give Kansas an insurance run and extend the lead, 6-1, after scoring on a pass ball before the inning was over.
In the bottom of the seventh, Welborn led off the frame with a double down the left field line for Texas Tech, which prompted Smith to go to her bullpen and bring in sophomore Sophia Templin. The Red Raiders would go on to put four runs on the board tying the game. The final run of the inning that knotted the game, 6-6, was scored on wild pitch. After the wild pitch, Pille took over, her 30th outing of the season, to record the final out of the seventh frame.
In the eighth, Pille tossed a 1-2-3 inning to get Kansas’ offense back in the batter’s box to work on regaining the lead. The Jayhawks threatened in the bottom half of the frame, but Texas Tech slowed KU’s momentum and stranded two more Kansas runners.
Stein ended the ninth inning with a web gem at first base. The senior snagged a line drive and dove back to the bag for the double play to ending the Red Raiders’ threat and stranding the winning run in scoring position. The momentum form the double play carried over into the next inning when Stein and Naudin gave Kansas the lead with a three-RBI double and two-run home run, respectively.
“It was a big play,” Smith Said. “It was a good hit right to Maddie and she was able to turn the double play. That was absolutely a momentum shifter and gave us a little bit of life. It gave us confidence going up to the plate and a little bit more energy. We responded well with a lot of good at-bats that inning.”
The Jayhawks built up a comfortable five-run lead heading into the bottom of the final inning, but Texas Tech wouldn’t give up that easily. Belshe sparked a rally with a solo shot to left field bringing TTU within four runs. Brooke Scott kept the rally alive with a two-run home run as Texas Tech inched closer to KU’s lead, but Pille induced the final out sealing a Kansas win, 11-9.
Seven Jayhawks registered a multi-hit effort on Saturday afternoon. Naudin led the charge with a 3-for-6 performance at the plate, while Stein drove in a game-high three RBIs. Brickey, freshman Jessie Roane, McGinley, Evans and McElhaney joined Stein and Naudin in posting a multi-hit game.
Kansas concludes the three-game series against Texas Tech on Sunday, April 12 at 11 a.m., inside Rocky Johnson Field.
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