Late Rally Propels Tigers Past Kansas, 5-3
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Senior third baseman Chanin Naudin paced Kansas’ offense with a perfect 3-for-3 performance at the plate and contributed two RBIs, but a late-inning rally helped Missouri pull off a come-from-behind victory, 5-3, on Saturday evening at University Field.
Kansas (39-14) had a one-run lead over the Tigers through four and half innings after a pair of home runs scored all three KU runs. Missouri (41-14) gained its first lead of the ballgame in the fifth inning, a lead that the Tigers wouldn’t relinquish no matter how hard KU fought to take it back.
The highly-anticipated matchup of the Columbia Regional got off to a late start due to storms that continued to roll through the area. After a five-hour delay from its original first pitch of 10 a.m. the game got underway.
The Jayhawks’ offense wasted little time getting started as junior shortstop Chaley Brickey led off the game with a single to right field. The next two batters moved Brickey closer to home, but Naudin’s ninth homer of the season that gave Kansas a two-run lead in the top of the first.
Missouri’s Sami Fagan answered with a two-run home run for the Tigers in the bottom half of the inning to even the score, 2-2. MU recorded two more hits in the opening frame, but Kansas put an end to threat leaving a Tiger on second base.
Junior outfielder Shannon McGinley reached base with KU’s third hit of the day to start the second inning. She advanced to second on an illegal pitch. Freshman outfielder Erin McGinley walked before a fielder’s choice put KU runners on the corners with one out. Missouri ace Tori Finucane retired the next two batters as two Jayhawks were stranded as the top of the inning came to a close, one in scoring position.
After Missouri’s first batter of the second inning reached, senior hurler Alicia Pille worked her way out of the frame by sitting the next three batters down via strikeout, pop out and ground out. Another Tiger remained on base, the Tigers left six runners on base. However, it was the Jayhawks that had the most missed opportunities by stranding 10 runners.
In the third inning, Chavez regained the lead for KU with a solo home run to center field, but the Jayhawk bats wouldn’t let up and continued to apply pressure offensively. Naudin singled for her 14th multi-hit game of the year. Another single and a walk from Shannon and Erin McGinley loaded the bases. Missouri escaped the bases loaded jam without any further harm. Kansas headed to the home half of the third with a one-run advantage over the Tigers.
Sophomore outfielder Taylor McElhaney doubled to the gap in left centerfielder to open the fourth frame, while a ground out moved her third base. Finucane surrendered two walks in a row, one intentionally, as the Jayhawks loaded the bases for a second time. But, just like the previous inning, Missouri ended the bases loaded threat unscathed.
After giving up the two-run home run on the first, Pille threw three scoreless innings before the Tigers could claim their first advantage of the ballgame. The Royse City, Texas product scattered eight hits and struck out three, while allowing two walks.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Missouri rallied for three runs to take its first lead of the game, 5-3. Designated player Amanda Sanchez tied the contest with a RBI single and first baseman Kelsey Roth followed with a two-RBI double down the left field line.
The Jayhawks fought back until the final out was made in the top of the seventh. Two Jayhawks reached as the go ahead run entered the batter’s box, but Missouri put a stop to the rally and held on to win, 5-3.
With the loss, Pille dropped to 24-7 on the season after throwing her eighth complete game of the year. Finucane earned the victory in the circle and improved to 21-8 on the season. She struck out four in her complete game effort.
Kansas will face the winner of Louisville/Indiana State in the final game of Saturday. The winner advances to play Missouri in the Regional Championship.
KANSAS SOFTBALL QUOTESKansas Head Coach Megan Smith
On her team’s previous success with holding late leads and what was different today:
“We had done a good job with that all season. We’ve won a lot of close games all season. You’ve got to give credit to Mizzou and their hitters for coming through that inning. They had multiple quality at bats in a row. If you do that at this level then you’re going to have success.”
CHANIN NAUDIN // SENIOR // INFIELDER
On Mizzou’s double that just snuck in down the third base line:
“Off the bat, I thought it could’ve been foul. In those situations you have to play more ‘do-or-die’. I just need to be sure to go after everything.”
ALICIA PILLE // SENIOR // PITCHER
On coming off pitching a complete game, and if there was any fatigue on the mound today:
“This late in the season, I’m not going to feel any fatigue at all. That’s not where my head is. I’m going to throw out there until I’m not able to throw any longer. I’ll be there for my team as long as they need me.”
On the ball bouncing Mizzou’s way in their 3-run fifth inning:
“That’s just the game. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes it doesn’t. I was still confident in our hitters (to re-take the lead), and hopefully we have another chance to play them again tomorrow.”
On jumping out to a 2-run lead in the first inning:
“That (the home run) wasn’t even questionable coming off the bat. It was a great way to start and send a message to them (Mizzou).”
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