Kansas Downs Cougars, 6-4, in Midweek Match Up
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A four-run third inning allowed Kansas to pull away and gain a large enough lead to sustain SIU-Edwardsville’s attempt at mounting a comeback. The Jayhawks halted the rally and held on to defeat the Cougars, 6-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
SIU-Edwardsville (35-11) put a run on the board first, but the Jayhawks (34-8) tacked on six runs over three innings to take the lead, which wouldn’t be relinquished no matter how hard the Cougars fought to rally. Both offenses tallied eight hits, but it was the three SIUE errors that made a difference as KU capitalized on each error.
“We played a team that is top-40 (RPI) team in the country, so we knew that they were going to continue to put pressure on us,” said head coach Megan Smith. “They are the type of team that the further the game goes they fight more, they are a very scrappy team. We anticipated it being a tough battle today. We got a little bit of a comfortable lead, but none of us felt comfortable because we knew the type of team that was in the other dugout. They came back a little bit, but that’s what good teams do, so we are going to prepare for that every time we play.”
Shannon and Erin McGinley, sisters from Prairie Village, Kansas, combined for three of KU’s eight hits and three of the Jayhawks’ five RBIs. Erin McGinley finished the day 1-for-1 with a RBI, while Shannon McGinley went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. The McGinley’s three RBIs came in the big third inning that helped Kansas extend its lead by four runs over the Cougars.
“They were great today,” said Smith of the McGinley duo at the plate. “Shannon had hit a little rough patch in her hitting, but is working out of it and doing really well the last few weeks. Then Erin has just gotten her opportunity and has taken advantage of it the last two games. Erin has quality at bats every single time, whether she’s putting a bunt down or working a pitcher for a walk or getting a RBI double. She’s just looked really good the last two days. It’s tough when you don’t play for two thirds of the season, but now that she’s gotten her opportunity she has taken off with it. We are really proud of her.”
Sophomore Sophia Templin sealed the victory in the final inning for Kansas. She worked her way out of a bases loaded jam and despite the tying run in scoring position, Templin calmly recorded out after out to end the game. Her clutch performance in the circle earned Templin her first career save.
“We noticed with Bryn throwing that they struggled with off speed and figured that Sophia could come in and save the game for us, which she certainly did,” Smith said. “She was throwing really good pitches, moving the ball and then that off-speed just got them. She was tough and came through for us.”
Junior Chaley Brickey led off the game with a five-pitch walk and advanced to third base with a single and a ground out, but the inning came to an end before the Jayhawks could capitalize on its two runners in scoring position.
SIUE took the lead in the second inning after shortstop Alex McDavid hit a solo home run to centerfield, the first hit of the afternoon for the Cougars. SIU-Edwardsville’s 1-0 advantage wouldn’t stand for more than the top of the second, as Kansas evened the score in the bottom half of the frame. Shannon McGinley singled up the middle, while Erin McGinley bunted her into scoring position. Junior outfielder Briana Evans beat out the throw to first for the second hit of the inning and an error on the first baseman allowed Shannon McGinley to score, tying the game 1-1.
In the third inning, the Jayhawks pulled ahead with a four-run lead after stringing together several hits and taking advantage of a couple errors. Senior utility Maddie Stein led off the frame with a double to left field and after a pair of errors Stein and freshman infielder Daniella Chavez stood on the corners with no outs. Senior infielder Chanin Naudin drove in the first of four runs in the inning with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. The rally continued with a single from freshman catcher Jessie Roane.
With two runners on, the McGinley’s worked their magic at the plate recording back-to-back doubles. Shannon’s double to left field drove in one Jayhawk, while Erin’s double to right field allowed her to trade places with her sister and drive in two more runs, as KU’s lead grew to a 5-1 advantage.
Right-hander Bryn Houlton worked quickly to end the top of the fourth frame. She sat down the three batters she faced in order with the help of her defense, allowing the offense to get back in the batter’s box and continue to extend its lead. The freshman from Savanna, Oklahoma made her seventh start of the season. She struck out two in five and two-thirds inning of work, while allowing four runs and six hits. During her 15th appearance of the season, Houlton tossed three scoreless frames.
Kansas’ offense wasn’t done applying pressure after putting five runs on the scoreboard in the previous two innings. Brickey led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to left field, which gave the Jayhawks a 6-1 lead. The Haltom City, Texas native leads the team with 12 home runs, which is tied for third-most home runs in a season by a junior. The 12 homers also ties Brickey’s mark from last season, the sixth most in a single season by a Jayhawk.
Although KU had amassed a five-run lead through the first four innings, SIUE continued to attack in attempts to regain its lead from the second inning. Haley Chambers, who started in the circle and later moved to the designated player position, drove in a run in the fifth with a RBI single, cutting Kansas’ lead, 6-2.
Chambers dropped to 20-5 on the season with the loss in the circle. She tossed two and third innings, allowing five runs on six hits. Baylee Douglass worked three and two-thirds of relief for the Cougars and struck out three batters.
In the top of the sixth, the Cougars scored its first run of the frame after outfielder Brittany Toney drew a bases-loaded walk. Senior Alicia Pille entered the circle with the bases loaded and two outs. A wild pitch allowed another SIUE run to score, but Pille regrouped to strikeout the only batter she faced as the Jayhawks headed to the seventh inning with a 6-4 lead.
Kansas’ offense went quietly in the final inning as Templin took over in relief with a two-run advantage to work with. The DeSoto, Kansas native worked her way out of a bases loaded jam without a run scoring. After the bases were loaded, Templin induced a pop out, a fielder’s choice and ended the game with strike out. Templin earned her first career save after tossing one hitless inning of relief.
Kansas will return to Big 12 action April 24-26 for a three-game series against Oklahoma in Arrocha Ballpark. The series against the Sooners will begin Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m.
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