No. 5 Sooners Hold On to Down Kansas, 7-4
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The series finale came down to the final out as Kansas nearly pulled off another come-from-behind victory, but the Jayhawks late-inning rally was stalled by No. 5 Oklahoma, who held on to win, 7-4, on Sunday at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
With the tying run at the plate for Kansas (35-10, 5-7 Big 12) and no outs in the bottom of the seventh, Oklahoma (42-7, 13-2 Big 12) brought its starter Paige Parker back into the circle to face freshman Daniella Chavez, who leads the Jayhawks this season with three grand slams. KU has recorded nine bases-loaded home runs this season, including a walk-off.
Prior to Parker re-entering the game to pitch, senior utility Maddie Stein drove in the first run of the final inning with a single to shortstop. Chavez fouled off several pitches before Parker could record the first out, but with Chavez’s sacrifice fly another Jayhawk crossed home plate and KU inched closer to its second upset of the weekend. Parker would go on to sit the next two KU batters down preserving the win and halting Kansas’ come-from-behind attempt.Senior Maddie Stein went 2-for-3 with a RBI
during Sunday’s finale against the Sooners.
“Today I thought we fought, which is something we challenged them on after yesterday,” said head coach Megan Smith. “Yesterday we had no fight at all, but today we fought the entire game and gave ourselves a chance to win. Against a team like Oklahoma, that’s all you can ask for.”
With the victory, the Sooners won the series, 2-1. Kansas opened the series with a 4-2 extra-inning win, which marks the sixth-straight season that the Jayhawks have upset at least one nationally-ranked foe. KU has a 1-3 record against opponents in the Top 25 polls.
Kansas’ offense produced five hits in the series finale as Stein and junior infielder Chaley Brickey each registered two to lead the offense.
Oklahoma struck early for the second time this weekend to take a 2-0 lead in the opening frame. The Sooners loaded the bases for outfielder Erin Miller, who hit a base knock to right field plating two runs. Senior hurler Alicia Pille got the starting nod in the final game of the weekend against OU and after giving up the first two runs, settled down to retire the next three batters to end the inning and put a stop to the Sooners offensive momentum.
In the bottom half of the first, Stein and Chavez collected back-to-back walks, giving Kansas its first pair of base runners, but Parker, who started all three games of the series for OU, retired the next two batters via fly out and strikeout to strand the Jayhawks.
With two outs in the second, senior Shelby Pendley tacked on an additional run with a RBI double to right centerfield. The ball fell into the gap in the outfield allowing enough time for senior Lauren Chamberlain to score from first base as OU’s lead grew, 3-0. Pille claimed her first strikeout victim in the second frame, which ended the inning.
Pille worked around a pair of base hits in the top of the third and ended OU’s threat with her second K of the day. Pille gave up three early runs and then tossed three scoreless innings giving Kansas’ offense time to heat up and mount a rally. Pille threw her 18th complete game the season, while striking out four. After the loss, she is 21-4 in the circle. She surrendered five earned runs and 10 hits.
In the bottom of the third, Stein recorded KU’s first hit, a double off the right field wall. The Sooners once again ended the threat before the Jayhawks’ offense could push a run across. Kansas stranded three runners in the first three innings, two in scoring position.
Kansas scored its first run of the day in the fifth inning to cut OU’s advantage to a pair of runs. With two outs, junior outfielder Briana Evans reached base on a fielding error by Chamberlain, which allowed Brickey to step into the batter’s box. The Haltom City, Texas native blasted a stand-up double to the gap in right centerfield allowing Evans to cross home plate. Pille returned to the circle in the sixth inning trailing OU, 3-1.
Oklahoma’s offense put up four runs in the sixth inning to lead, 7-1. Three of the four runs scored were unearned after the Jayhawks’ infield recorded its first and only error of the weekend.
Although it seemed that Oklahoma had the ballgame sealed with a six-run lead, Kansas’ offense wouldn’t go quietly in the final two innings. The Jayhawks added its second run to the scoreboard in the sixth frame after capitalizing on a pair of OU errors. Kansas headed to the seventh inning trailing the Sooners, 7-2.
After back-to-back walks, Brickey loaded the bases for Kansas with her second hit of the day. Stein continued the rally with infield single, which plated the first of run of the frame. With the bases still loaded and no outs, Chavez stepped to the plate representing the tying run, which is when Parker went back to the circle for Oklahoma. Chavez battled a full count before driving in the second run with a sacrifice fly centerfield. Now with one out and the tying run still at the plate, Parker managed to sit the next two batters down to seal the victory, 7-4.
“We got ourselves in a hole,” said Smith. “We fought in the end there, but Oklahoma brought its number one pitcher back in and it’s tough to crawl yourself out of that big hole.”
Parker improved to 23-5 in the circle with her second win of the weekend. She struck out four and allowed two hits and one run to score in six innings of work.
For the second game in a row, the Jayhawks battled the Sooners in front of a capacity crowd and on Sunday set a stadium attendance record of 1,187.
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