KU's Comeback Cut Short, Baylor Edges Jayhawks, 4-2
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball nearly started its final homestand of 2015 with an upset over another nationally-ranked foe, but the Jayhawks seventh-inning rally was halted as No. 14 Baylor held on to win, 4-2, on Friday night at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
Much like a week ago against No. 5 Oklahoma, KU entered the final inning trailing by a couple of runs. While the Jayhawks were victorious in starting the series with a win against the Sooners, the Bears found a way to fend off Kansas’ late rally.
The Jayhawks (35-11, 5-8 Big 12) recorded two quick outs and it appeared that Baylor (35-13, 9-4 Big 12) would coast through the final inning, but junior infielder Chaley Brickey fought through a full count to draw a two-out walk. Senior first baseman Maddie Stein followed with a single up the middle, which put the tying run on base as freshman designated player Daniella Chavez stepped into the batter’s box. Last week, Chavez hit a walk-off home run to clinch the upset over OU. With a 2-2 count, Baylor’s ace Heather Stearns got Chavez to strikeout ending the game.
“I thought we fought hard until the end and it was good to see them answer right away to start the game,” said head coach Megan Smith. “But, I think what got us tonight was that our at-bats the second time around weren’t as good.”
Chavez recorded one of five Kansas hits on the night, a two-run home run that scored KU’s two runs in the first frame. The Crowley, Texas native leads the squad with 54 RBIs and has hits the second-most home runs on the roster with 12. Chavez’s 54 RBIs is the second-most RBIs recorded in a single season behind Serena Settlemier, who registered 61 in 2006.
Baylor’s offense didn’t waste any time gaining its first lead of the contest. The Bears scored two runs on three hits to open the first game of the series and headed to the bottom half of the first frame with a 2-0 lead over the Jayhawks.
Kansas answered in the home half of the first inning by evening the score, 2-2. Chavez drilled her 12th long ball of the season off the indoor facility beyond the wall in right centerfield. Chavez two-run homer knotted the score, 2-2, after one complete inning.
The Bears responded in the next inning and regained the lead, 3-2, after stringing together a pair of base hits. Outfielder Lindsey Cargill drove in the go-ahead run with a single up the middle.
In the fourth inning, Baylor threatened to extend its lead after moving two runners into scoring position. With two strikes, Kansas hurler Alicia Pille was one strike away from ending the inning, but instead Baylor loaded the bases after the batter was hit by a pitch. Pille worked her way through the jam as the bases remained loaded after the senior induced a fly out to left field to end the inning. The Jayhawks headed to the fifth inning still trailing by a run.
Pille ended the top of the sixth with her second strikeout of night. With the strikeout, Pille stranded two more Bears in scoring position, increasing the total to 10 left on base for Baylor. With the loss, Pille drops to 21-5 in the circle during her senior campaign. She threw her Big 12-leading 19th complete game of the season.
The Bears scored an insurance run in the seventh inning extending their advantage, 4-2. First baseman Shelby Friudenberg added the fourth BU run to the scoreboard with a home run over the centerfield wall.
Stearns fought off KU’s rally in the seventh frame to improve to 17-9 in the circle. In her complete game performance, Stearns struck out eight, while tossing six-straight scoreless innings after allowing two KU runs to score in the first frame.
Kansas continues its last homestand of the 2015 season with the Bears on Saturday, May 2 at 2 p.m. the game will air on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3 and the Jayhawk Radio Network. Following the game, Kansas will honor the careers of its senior class.
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