Red Raiders Power Past Kansas, 7-5
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas fought to the last out to come from behind, but Texas Tech’s offense powered past the Jayhawks, 7-5, in the opening game of the series on Thursday night at Arrocha Ballpark.
The Red Raiders hit three home runs, which accounted for five of seven runs and proved to be the difference as the two teams combined for 21 hits. Kansas’ (29-14, 3-4 Big 12) loss snapped a four-game winning streak over TTU.
“I am really proud of how the offense fought today,” said head coach Megan Smith. “We got in a hole early, but our offense kept fighting and chipping away at it. Today wasn’t our day and Texas Tech played a good game. They got some really big hits when they needed them.”
Offensively, the Jayhawks produced 10 hits, while the Red Raiders recorded 11. Senior Alex Jones led the squad with three hits (3-for-4) for her 10th multi-hit game in 2014 and reached base in all four at-bats. She also led the team with two runs scored.
“Alex is a spark plug for us on offense,” Smith said. “She has done well against Texas Tech in the past and continued to produce offensively for us tonight against them.”
Cassie McClure gave Texas Tech the lead, 3-0, in the third inning after hitting a three-run homer to left field. McClure’s long ball sparked the Red Raiders offense and it also marked the first time the Jayhawks had trailed at home in conference play.
Kansas responded in the bottom half of the third frame cutting TTU’s lead to one run. Junior Maddie Stein put KU on the board with a RBI single, while freshman Harli Ridling drove in the second KU run with a double as the Jayhawks trailed 3-2.
Sophomore hurler Kelsey Kessler retired the first two batters of the fourth inning before TTU’s Brittany Lee hit another Red Raider home run increasing Texas Tech’s lead, 4-2. Kessler tossed four innings in the loss. She struck out five batters and gave up eight hits.
Texas Tech tagged on two more runs in the fifth inning to take its largest lead of the night, 6-2. Jones entered the circle with two runners on and no outs in the fifth frame and ended the inning without any more runs crossing home plate.
The Jayhawks continued to chip away at the Red Raiders lead and answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore Chaley Brickey launched her team-leading ninth home run of the season to left field cutting the deficit to two runs as KU trailed 6-4. TTU called upon Cara Custer to shut down KU’s offense late in the game and preserve the lead. She induced a double play to end the inning and kept Kansas’ offense from gaining momentum.
The Red Raiders’ starter Gretchen Aucoin tossed four and a third innings in the victory improving to 10-7 on the year. She struck out three Jayhawks and allowed seven hits.
The third home run of the evening for Texas Tech extended the lead 7-4 in the sixth. Kansas answered again with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning after freshman Lily Behrmann drove in senior Taylor Hatfield.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Jayhawks had the tying run on base after back-to-back hits gave KU two runners, but Custer induced another double play to end the game and earned her third save of the year as Texas Tech held on to win, 7-5.
KANSAS SET TO CELEBRATE ‘JAYHAWKS FOR A CURE’ ON SATURDAY
Many of the Kansas’ teams host a ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ game, which honors cancer survivors and fighters, while raising awareness. On Saturday, the Jayhawk softball team will honor one of their own, Paul Buske, the late husband of head coach Megan Smith.
Buske lost his battle with kidney cancer in June of 2011 and Saturday’s game against Texas Tech will honor him, survivors and others affected by the disease.
All fans that wear orange or pink will receive $3 admission to Saturday’s game. Those in attendance will receive a special orange ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ towel. Also, Smith and Buske’s son, Cooper, will throw the first pitch.
The Jayhawks continue their three-game Big 12 series against Texas Tech on Friday, April 18 at Arrocha Ballpark. First pitch for the second game is set for 5 p.m.
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