Jayhawks Remain Perfect; Sweep Butler and Labette

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball closed out opening weekend of the 2014 Fall slate with a pair of wins to move to a perfect 4-0 mark on the season. The Jayhawks defeated Butler, 9-1, and Labette, 10-0, on Sunday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park.

“It was a fun weekend,” said head coach Megan Smith. “It was the first games at Rock Chalk Park with nine new players, a new coach on staff and it was a lot of fun. We’re learning how the park plays and how things operate here. We’re seeing coach Rittman’s hitting style and philosophy being put into play from our players. I am really pleased with that and the players are doing a good job of listening to him. We saw a lot of good things from the new players this weekend.”

KU’s offense continued to be a powerful force by hitting two more home runs, including a grand slam by junior Shannon McGinley. The offense was led by sophomore Lily Behrmann’s six hits, she recorded three in each game. The Jayhawks outscored their opponents 19-1 on the second day of the fall tournament and 35-2 in their first four games.

“Offensively, we are seeing a lot of really good things from a lot of players,” said Smith. “Today, players that stood out were Maddie Stein, she was phenomenal. Every at-bat was a good at-bat from her and she stepped up in some clutch situations. She is definitely one of our leaders and she showed that today offensively. Shannon McGinley, wow, she had a great day today. She had a great weekend. She’s been really productive at the plate. She had power, a short game and she was able to use it all. I was really excited about her performance. Lily Behrmann was phenomenal and has been phenomenal. She is so locked in and focused on what she’s doing, you can see that during pregame and you know she’s ready to play. And then, Daniella Chavez continues to do well. She has lot of power and had great at-bats. I like her demeanor at the plate, she is very calm.”

While the offense put up impressive numbers, the Kansas pitching staff held its own in the circle giving up only one run on Sunday and combining for 16 strikeouts in two games.

“I thought that (Alicia) Pille did really well and she got better as the game progressed, which is what we wanted to see,” Smith said. “We wanted her to throw more innings to see how she would progress throughout the game. I thought she kept them off balance and her change up looked great. She is a force in the circle and showed us that today. Beth (Wilson) and Bryn (Houlton) shared that second game and did well. Bryn came in and was phenomenal. Yesterday, she had freshman jitters and you could see it. Today, she came out and looked really good. She was moving the ball and that’s what I didn’t see yesterday. She was also much more confident in the circle in her second outing.”

Senior Alicia Pille started the first game of the day and set the tone in the circle early. Although she gave up a hit in the opening frame, Pille also struck out the first of seven strikeouts to retire the side. KU’s high-powered offense gave Pille run support in the bottom half of the first by putting four runs on the board. Junior Chaley Brickey drove in the first run and freshman Daniella Chavez followed with a three-run home run to give the Jayhawks a 4-0 lead.

In the second inning, Pille sat the Butler batters down in order with a pair of ground outs and a pop up. Pille’s performance in the second frame started a streak of sitting 15 batters down in order. In the fourth inning, it appeared Butler would break the streak, but a double play erased the base runner and ended the inning. A native of Royce City, Texas, Pille struck out seven and surrendered two hits in six innings of work.

McGinley doubled KU’s score in the fourth frame extending the lead, 8-0, after hitting a grand slam over the right field fence. Brickey drove in her second run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning as Kansas’ lead grew, 9-0.

Butler managed to score one run in the final inning, but Sophia Templin ended the inning before the Bulldogs could plate anymore runs. The Jayhawks walked away with a, 9-1, victory to start the day.

Kansas’ offense scored first for the third-straight game in the second game of the day against Labette Community College. Senior Maddie Stein kicked off the scoring by driving in a pair of runs with a double down the right field line in the opening frame. Chavez added a third run to the scoreboard after hitting a double to right field and KU took a 3-0 advantage into the second inning.

Senior Beth Wilson got the starting nod in the second game and threw four shutout innings. She struck out two Labette batters, while allowing six hits.

In the third inning, sophomore Katelyn Schumacher drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field, which increased the Jayhawks’ lead, 4-0. Kansas’ offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth frame scoring four additional runs giving KU an 8-0 advantage. McGinley, Stein and Chavez all recorded RBIs in the fourth inning.

Freshman Bryn Houlton took over in the circle in the fifth and threw two scoreless innings of relief. She recorded six strikeouts, which included striking out the side in the top of the seventh.

Kansas added two more runs late in the game after Brickey plated a run and an error brought in another. The Jayhawks ended the day with a, 10-0, shutout over Labette to improve to 4-0.

The Jayhawks continue their Fall season on Tuesday, Oct. 7 against Cowley at 6 p.m., at Rock Chalk Park.

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