Late Rally Lifts No. 14 Baylor Past Jayhawks, 7-0
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior hurler Alicia Pille kept the series finale against No. 14 Baylor close until the Bears surged ahead with six runs in the final two innings to shut out Kansas, 7-0, on Sunday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park.
The Jayhawks (35-13, 5-10 Big 12) surrendered the lead in the opening frame after the Bears (37-13, 11-4 Big 12) capitalized on a throwing error to score the go-ahead run. Despite the costly error to start the game, Pille settled in nicely to give the Jayhawks’ offense time to catch fire, but KU’s offense could never gain momentum to overcome the one-run lead and Baylor put six runs on the scoreboard late in the game to take a commanding lead.
“We gave some free bases away and they some made good adjustments with (Alicia) Pille,” said head coach Megan Smith. “I thought Pille threw very well today until the end and we couldn’t catch a break there at the end. Baylor is a good offensive team that started to make adjustments at the end.”
Through the first three innings, Pille recorded three strikeouts and ended the afternoon with six. Currently, Pille has posted 646 career K’s in the Crimson and Blue and jumped two spots for fourth all-time in KU softball history. Pille fell to 21-6 in the circle after allowing 10 hits and six earned runs.
After Baylor took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Pille and the Bears’ ace Heather Stearns put zeros on the board for the next four innings sparking a pitcher’s duel. Junior outfielder Briana Evans halted Stearns no-hitter attempt with a base knock in the third frame. Evan’s single through the left side also ended Stearns streak of batters retired in order at eight.Junior Briana Evans recorded one of two
Kansas hits on Sunday afternoon.
“Heather Stearns is a great pitcher and she’s had a great year,” Smith said. “She has done some really good things and beat some tough teams, so we knew it was going to be difficult facing her. You have to give her credit for throwing well, but I think we could’ve done a better job sticking to our game plan offensively. When you face a pitcher like her, you’ve got to step into the batter’s box locked in and stick to the game plan. I think we were very quick to abandon our game plan.”
Junior infielder Chaley Brickey kept the momentum on offense in KU’s favor by drawing a four-pitch walk, advancing the tying run into scoring position, and extending the third inning. Brickey has registered 95 base on balls in her nearly three-year career and is 14 away from breaking Kansas’ all-time walk record. Stearns collected the third out to retire the third and leave two Jayhawks on base.
Baylor put an end to the scoreless streak in the sixth inning and increased its lead, 2-0. Catcher Robin Landrith drove in the first of six runs in the final two innings with a RBI single to center field. Sophomore Taylor McElhaney attempted to answer for the Jayhawks in the home half of the sixth. McElhaney led off the frame with a single to left field, the second hit of the day for Kansas, but would be the third Jayhawk stranded as Stearns once again put a zero on the scoreboard.
The Bears sealed the victory and the series sweep after plating five runs in the final inning. Pille started out the inning with a ground out, but found herself in a bases loaded jam. After Baylor loaded the bases, Pille struck out the next batter coming one out closer to getting out of the jam unscathed. The Bears capitalized on a hit batter to drive in the first of five runs before sophomore Sophia Templin, who relieved Pille, could induce the final out of the inning.
Kansas couldn’t find an answer to the Bears late-inning offensive surge in the bottom of the seventh and fell, 7-0.
The Jayhawks travel to Iowa State for their final Big 12 series of 2015. The three-game series kicks off on Friday, May 8 at 4 p.m., inside the Cyclone Sports Complex. All three contests will air on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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