Jayhawks Sweep Regular-Season Series Finale, 10-0
AMES, Iowa – Kansas concluded the 2015 regular season with a series sweep over Iowa State after shutting out the Cyclones, 10-0, in game two of the doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at the Cyclone Sports Complex.
The shortened-inning victory marked the 11th run-rule win for Kansas (38-13, 8-10 Big 12) of the season and extended the Jayhawks winning streak over Iowa State (26-28, 3-15 Big 12) to 10 games, including sweeps to end the last three seasons.
“Sweeps in conference (play) are really difficult because every conference team is tough and everybody is fighting to win those games, specifically the last weekend of the year it’s even tougher,” said head coach Megan Smith. “The last two weekends have been pretty rough, so for us to come out, be locked in and attack Iowa State for three-straight games is a big deal for our team. I am really proud of the effort from all of our players this weekend.”
A game after setting a new single-season RBI record, freshman designated player Daniella Chavez led KU’s offensive charge with a 4-for-4 performance at the plate. Chavez’s 15th home run of the season in the fifth inning tied the Jayhawk freshman record for homers in a season. On the weekend, Chavez hit. 727 with three home runs and 11 RBIs, including three in the series finale.
“Daniella is such a special player,” said Smith. “When we recruited Daniella we wanted her to come in and hit for us. We thought she could hit at our level and she sure can. She’s impressive, she has great at-bats, she has great demeanor and she listens to everything coach Rittman says. She makes adjustments better than probably any other hitter in our lineup. I am proud of what she has done and she’s going to have an unbelievable career here.”
While Kansas’ offense shined all weekend, senior right-hander Alicia Pille dominated in the circle in her last outing of the regular season. She scattered three hits in her sixth complete-game shutout. After tossing seven scoreless innings, Pille’s ERA dropped to 2.90, while improving to 23-6 with the victory in the circle.
“She threw today as well as she has thrown all year,” Smith said of Pille’s performance. “Today was a better day for her. She had better command of her pitches, I think she was throwing harder and she had good control. She has had a great career here and it’s not over yet, but I am really proud of how she’s grown as a person and a player. To have her come out and throw a shutout in her last Big 12 game is pretty special.”
The Jayhawks took a commanding leading after scoring eight runs in the opening two frames. Kansas began the game with a 4-0 advantage in the first inning after Chavez, catcher Jessie Roane and outfielder Erin McGinley driving in three of KU’s four first-inning runs.
In the second inning, junior outfielder Shannon McGinley’s single through the right side increased the score, 5-0, in the Jayhawks’ favor. Erin McGinley plated her second run of the game after drawing a bases loaded walk. With the bases still loaded, junior outfielder Briana Evans extended KU’s lead, 8-0, with a two-RBI single down the left field line.
Over the first two frames, Pille sat the first six batters she faced down in order. She finished the game with seven strikeouts, bringing her season total to 184. At the end of the regular season, Pille brought her career total to 657 K’s over the last four seasons, which is fourth all-time in Kansas history.
It looked as though the Cyclones would get on the board in the fourth, but Evans gunned down the runner at home plate from centerfield. At home, Roane applied the tag in time to get the runner out, the stellar defensive play preserved the shutout and ended the fourth inning.
Chavez capped off Kansas’ scoring in the fifth inning after recording a two-run homer to right field, as the Jayhawks took its largest lead of the day, 10-0. Pille closed out the bottom half of the fifth inning without any harm and with the 10-run lead, the Big 12 conference run-rule was in effect ending the game in five innings.
The selection show for the 2015 NCAA Softball Tournament is Sunday, May 10 at 9 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The field of 64 teams that will continue on into the postseason will be announced.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.