Kansas Powers Past Iowa State, 10-3
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Taylor Hatfield led Kansas’ offense with a home run and a double for her second-straight multi-hit performance as KU won the series against Iowa State with a 10-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
Hatfield made her senior day memorable with her third home run of the season, which gave Kansas (32-21, 6-11 Big 12) the lead. The Arkansas City, Kansas, native was one of two Jayhawks to record a multi-RBI game after her long ball plated two runs.
“This was by far the best home run because it’s senior day,” said Hatfield. “I told the team, ‘all I want for senior day is a home run.”
Second baseman Ashely Newman made her 202nd career start on Senior Day recordeding a hit and a stolen base. Following Saturday’s game, Kansas honored the careers of the 2014 senior class, which included Hatfield, Newman, Alex Jones and Nikki Bruce.
“It’s a really special group,” said head coach Megan Smith of the senior class. “Two of them have only been here two years, but they have been huge additions to our program. They are great people, great students and great players. I looked out there and saw not only four great softball players, but four great people. I am really excited to have them as a part of our program. I can’t say enough about Ashley Newman and Alex Jones. Newman has been solid for us and Alex has been our leader ever since her freshman year. We hate to see them go.”
For the second-consecutive contest, KU outhit the Cyclones, 10-9, and improved its record to 17-3 when scoring 10 or more hits. Sophomore Chaley Brickey led the hit parade with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and drove in three RBIs.
“It helps your pitcher when you offense is doing that well,” Smith said. “At the beginning of the game, our at-bats weren’t at the quality we needed them to be, but we made that adjustment and started scoring runs, getting hits and getting on base. It’s all about quality at-bats and we ended the game on a high note in terms of that.”
In the second inning, Kansas scored its first runs of the day on Hatfield’s long ball over the right field wall, which gave the Jayhawks a 2-0 advantage.
Junior Chanin Naudin continued her defensive dominance in the second game of the series with a big play for the Jayhawks. The Cyclones had two runners in scoring position in the top of the third and Naudin once again snagged a line drive to keep Iowa State from scoring.
“We had a great defense last year and set a program record in terms of fielding percentage,” Smith said. “This year we are even better, which is a big feat. We work hard on it and have a lot of talented players. Our pitchers help us out too.”
ISU’s Sarah Hawryluk put the Cyclones on the board in the fifth frame with an RBI double. Hawryluk’s RBI cut KU’s lead to one run. Kansas’ starter Kelsey Kessler retired the next two batters eliminating the Cyclones threat and ended the third with Kansas ahead, 2-1.
The next two Kansas runs were scored like the first two after Brickey launched one over the left field wall. Her 11th home run of 2014 gave the Jayhawks the lead, 4-1. KU tacked on another additional insurance run to lead 5-1 after five innings.
Sara Davison cut Kansas’ lead to two runs after hitting a two-run home run in the top of the sixth. After giving up the long ball, Kessler sat the next two batters down and wouldn’t allow a Cyclone to cross home plate again.
Kessler (19-14) pitched her 21st complete game of the season en route to her 19th victory in the circle. She struck out seven and walked one in six innings of work. Kessler now has 244 strikeouts on the year, which is the third-most by a sophomore hurler in KU history. In her career, she has posted 360 strikeouts and is ninth all-time in Kansas history.
“Yesterday started out really rough, but Kelsey came out today refocused and ready to go,” said Smith. “That shows a lot of mental toughness. She gave up some runs and the big hit, but kept fighting. It was nice to see her comeback with that grit.”
Kansas’ hit parade continued in the bottom of the sixth forcing Iowa State to bring in Katie Johnson to replace Paris Imholz in the circle. The Jayhawks tallied on five more runs with a combination of three hits and a series of hit-by-pitches and walks. The Jayhawks’ rally continued after KU capitalized on a ISU error, which brought home the final KU run and extended the lead, 10-3.
“It’s amazing what happens when you put good pitching, defense and hitting together,” said Hatfield. “That’s what we’re doing right now and the defense is playing really well.”
Imholz recorded the loss dropping to 4-10 on the season. She allowed eight runs, three walks and nine hits in five innings pitched. The Jayhawks look to close out the 2014 regular season with a series sweep over Iowa State and extend their winning streak over the Cyclones to seven-straight games.
Kansas concludes its final home series of 2014 with the series finale against Iowa State on Sunday, May 11. First pitch is slated for noon and the game will also air live on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3.
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