Pille Leads Kansas to Regional Championship
COLUMBIA, Mo. – With a trip to the Columbia Regional Championship on the line, Kansas ace Alicia Pille grinded out her third-consecutive complete game to shutout Indiana State, 2-0, on Saturday evening at University Field.
Pille, a product of Royse City, Texas, struck out seven Sycamore batters, a NCAA Tournament-best for the senior. Kansas (40-14) not only advanced to the regional finale with the victory, but also reached the 40-win plateau for the first time since 1992 when the Jayhawks went 45-10.
After tossing seven scoreless frames, Pille improved to 25-6 in the circle. She limited the Sycamores (27-31) to two hits and surrendered just two walks in the pitcher’s duel.
On a night where the bats didn’t heat up until late in the game, Pille and the Jayhawks’ defense took center stage. Pille showed no signs of slowing down even after throwing all 21 innings that KU has played this weekend. Not only did Pille dazzle in the circle, but KU’s defense continued to make spectacular play after another to keep Indiana State’s bats at bay.
Sophomore Taylor McElhaney ended the first inning with a bang after the second baseman made a diving stop in shallow right field. McElhaney threw the runner out at first from her knees to help Pille record her first zero of the game.
Freshman catcher Jessie Roane erased Indiana State’s first base runner of the night after throwing her out a second. Freshman Abby Klopp recorded the first hit for ISU, a single to the shortstop before Roane caught the runner and triggered the final out of inning.
KU’s leadoff batter Chaley Brickey singled to the gap in right centerfield, registering Kansas’ first of four hits. While the Jayhawks scattered four hits over seven innings, the most important hit came off the bat of Roane in the sixth inning. The freshman doubled down the left field line giving Pille a two-run lead to work with in the final two innings.
Strong defense was the theme of KU’s second game on Saturday, junior outfielder Briana Evans stepped up with a diving catch in the bottom of the third frame. Her diving efforts in centerfield aided Pille in tossing her third-straight scoreless inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, senior third baseman Chanin Naudin came up with a diving snag and threw to first base for the first out.
Kansas ended the scoreless streak in the top of the six inning. Freshman infielder Daniella Chavez singled through the left side to ignite a late rally from the Jayhawks. Freshman Mikayla Warren pinch ran for Chavez and moved into scoring position after Naudin recorded the fifth KU walk. Roane’s double down the left field line plated two runs as Kansas took a 2-0 advantage.
Kansas faces Missouri in the Columbia Regional Championship on Sunday, May 17 at noon. The game will air on the SEC Network + and on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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