NCAA Tournament: Kansas’ Comeback at No. 16 Missouri Cut Short, 6-3
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Sophomore Chaley Brickey’s 12th home run of the season started a late-inning rally, but Kansas’ comeback was cut short as the Jayhawks dropped a 6-3 decision at No. 16 Missouri on Saturday at University Field.
The Jayhawks(34-22) fell to 1-1 at the Columbia Regional and will face the winner of Bradley/Nebraska on Saturday, May 17 at 8:30 p.m., where the winner advances to the Regional Championship against the Tigers.
Kansas’ defense had another great day on the diamond making stellar plays and extending its streak to 11 games without an error, while the Jayhawk offense didn’t give up until the last out was made.
The Jayhawks collected seven hits in their first game of the day and junior Maddie Stein posted another multi-hit effort after going 2-for-4. Brickey registered her 11th multi-RBI performance of the season by driving in all three KU runs.
Missouri’s right fielder Emily Crane singled to centerfield for the first hit and stole second advancing to scoring position. Infielder Sami Fagan doubled to left field and Crane headed home. It looked as though Missouri would take the lead, but Kansas’ defense had other plans, however, as left fielder Taylor Hatfield fired the ball into the infield. Brickey cutoff the throw and relayed into catcher Harli Ridling, who applied the tag in time as the Tiger runner was called out keeping the game tied, 0-0, after the top of the first.
Kansas loaded the bases in the bottom half of the first after a walk, an infield single and catcher’s interference. Stein’s bunt down the third base line was the first of seven hits for Kansas. Missouri got out of the bottom of the first unscathed leaving the bases loaded with Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks’ outfield made another stellar play in the second inning. Freshman center fielder Taylor McElhaney dove to her left and made the catch for the first out. With outs, Missouri took a 2-0 lead after Kirsten Mack hit a two-run home run to left field. Sophomore Kelsey Kessler got the next batter to pop up and Brickey made the catch to end the inning.
Missouri added another run in the top of the third inning to extend its lead. Designated player Angela Randazzo singled to left field plating the Tiger runner on second base as the Tigers led, 3-0. Kansas threatened in the bottom of the third after Brickey reached via walk and Stein recorded her second hit of the game to put two Jayhawks on base. The Tigers induced a pop up to second base to end the inning stranding two more KU runners.
In the fifth inning, Randazzo plated two more runs with a two-run home run to left field increasing Missouri’s lead, 5-0. Ridling tagged another runner out at home plate to end the fifth frame. This time around McElhaney relayed the ball to Brickey, who fired it in to Ridling for the out.
Kessler hurled four and two-thirds innings in her 35th start of 2014 and second of the weekend. She gave up five runs and nine hits in the loss dropping her mark in the circle to 20-15. Junior Beth Wilson struck three batters in two innigns of relief work.
McElhaney led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle of the field, while senior Ashley Newman got a board on a Tiger error. Freshman right fielder Lily Behrmann reached on a fielder’s choice to put KU runners on the corners. Brickey ended Missouri’s shutout after driving in a run with a fielder’s choice in the fifth as Kansas trailed, 5-1.
Kansas’ defense rose to the occasion in the sixth and ended the inning with a 3-6-4 double play, which is the sixth double play turned by KU in 2014. The Jayhawks loaded the bases for the second time against Missouri with three base hits in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Tigers turned a double play of their own to get out of the inning without harm. Missouri scored its final run in the seventh to take a 6-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Behrmann reached on the third Missouri error of the day. Brickey cut the Tigers lead with a two-run home run, but the Tigers ended the rally before it gained too much momentum and won, 6-3.
Kansas continues action at the Columbia Regional on Saturday, May 17 against Nebraska at 8:30 p.m. at University Field on the campus of Missouri.
Kansas Postgame QuotesKansas Head Coach Megan Smith
“Obviously I’m disappointed with the outcome. I thought our team fought to the end, which was nice to see. A lot of credit goes to Missouri, a lot of respect to their program and their talent. They played a really good game.”
On whether or not they were excited to play Missouri again…
“We were excited to be close to home and have a lot of fans here. We respect Missouri’s program so it’s exciting to play a team that’s done extremely well the past few years with Coach Earleywine. Other than that we were excited to play all three teams.”
On what they need to change if they face Missouri again tomorrow…
“I think we just need to be locked in on our at bats from the beginning. It took us a while to get settled in offensively. We have to do a better job at making adjustments early in the game and that would be our biggest adjustment if we get to face them again tomorrow.”
KU 1B Maddie Stein
On facing Mizzou pitcher Casey Stangel and not Tori Finucane…
“We knew (Finucane) had been injured but we weren’t positive who we were going to get so we were preparing for both. (Stangel) did a really good job. She’s definitely a good pitcher. She was keeping the ball down and we weren’t making adjustments like we need to.”
On playing against Missouri…
“I think it’s fun when you play against any team in post season. We’re really excited to be here. It’s definitely fun reliving the old rivalry. I was able to play here my freshman year and it’s always fun when there’s more than just playing for yourself but for your school. I think it’s fun.”
On having to make up for lost ground after Missouri scored in the second inning…
“We’ve talked all throughout the season that when you get punched, you want to get back and punch back. I don’t think we did as good of a job as we have in the past or as good as I think we should’ve. In post season especially, you expect for teams to come out and fight from the start. When you get punched like that, you have to have a better mindset to go right back at it instead of getting in a lull and waiting for something to happen.”
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