Jayhawks Roll Past Baker in Fall Opener, 10-0
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A productive offense paired with stellar outings in the circle resulted in Kansas softball opening its fall slate with a 10-0 victory in five innings over Baker on Thursday evening at Rock Chalk Park.
“We honestly had done one scrimmage at practice before today, so we didn’t know what to expect,” said head coach Megan Smith. “This was truly just our second scrimmage of the fall. I felt like we were a little nervous at first, but we settled in really well. It’s good to finally get out there and let them play.”
In the first of eight games this month, the Jayhawks’ offense continued to heat up with each inning and scored 10 runs on eight hits, including two home runs. While KU produced at the plate, freshman Alexis Reid and senior Monique Wesley combined for the shutout in the circle and limited the Wildcats to two bas
Reid earned the starting nod and struck out seven batters. In the third frame, the freshman from Blue Springs, Missouri struck out the side. Wesley took over in the circle in the fifth inning and posted a pair of K’s.
“Alexis (Reid) handled her first start extremely well,” Smith said of her rookie pitcher’s performance. “She had moments that were awesome, some really good pitches. Then, she had moments where she had to work through some things, which is good that she has to work through some adversity during the fall. I am really excited about what she’s going to do for us this spring.”
Sophomore Jessie Roane recorded the first hit of the night, a single through the left side. Junior Taylor Dodson put Kansas on the board first in the second frame with a two-run shot over the fence in left field.
“(Taylor) Dodson has been a player on a mission this summer and through the first five weeks of practice,” said Smith. “She has outworked everyone, been the most focused player and the most intense player. She wants it and I think you saw that in her first at-bat. She wants to be out here and help her team.”
Roane pushed the third Jayhawk run across in the third inning. Her RBI double down the left field line gave Kansas a 3-0 lead. She finished the night 2-for-2 with a RBI while making her first appearance at third base.
“I thought Jessie (Roane) was phenomenal,” Smith said. “I thought at the beginning when we were a little sluggish offensively and couldn’t find our rhythm, she came through big time leading off the inning we scored and a RBI for the third run. Her poise at the plate is huge.”
In the fourth inning, Kansas tacked on seven runs after the offense fashioned two hits and five walks. A pair of walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases with no outs as freshman Jennifer Marwitz stepped into the batter’s box. Marwitz recorded a walk to bring in the first run of the frame. Shannon McGinley followed with a two-RBI single to centerfield.
Senior Chaley Brickey extended the fourth inning with a three-run homer to left field. The shortstop posted a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a team-high three RBIs. Sophomore Mikayla Warren scored the final run of the fourth on a wild pitch as the Jayhawk lead grew, 10-0.
The Wildcats managed to load the bases in the fifth, but Wesley halted the momentum and got out of the jam untouched.
Thursday night mark the return of redshirt sophomore Harli Ridling, who sat out last year after suffering a season-ending injury during the offseason. The catcher from Sentinel, Oklahoma recorded a walk in three plate appearances.
“Jessie did an awesome job for us behind the plate, but it’s nice to see Harli (Ridling) back,” said Smith. “She had a great freshman year, then had a horrible injury and had to fight through a tough surgery. To see her back out there is fun to see. Her energy behind the plate is hard to find and the way she interacts with pitchers, pumping them up and making them feel confident, is difficult to find. We’re glad we have that back there.”
Kansas is set to play four games this weekend during the Jayhawk Fall Tournament Oct. 3-4, at Rock Chalk Park.
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