Balanced Jayhawks overpower Coppin State, UCA
CONWAY, Ark. — Kansas softball concluded its stay at the UCA Invitational with a pair of emphatic wins over Coppin State and host Central Arkansas on Sunday at Farris Field. The Jayhawks (11-2) extended their winning streak to five games by outscoring Sunday’s pair of opponents, 22-3, and ended the weekend in Arkansas with a 33-4 scoring advantage.
“Today, every single aspect of the game was strong and I’m not sure we’ve seen that level of consistency this season yet,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said. “It was good to see our pitching, hitting and defense look strong at the same time. This was a very good effort from every aspect today.”
Junior pitcher Brynn Minor (3-0) earned the victory in the circle against Coppin State (0-4) by throwing a season-high 11 strikeouts and allowing just one walk. Her 11 strikeouts are the most by a Jayhawk since 2016.
“Brynn was great today,” Smith said. “She did a good job of getting ahead on batters and then was mixing her pitches really well and kept Coppin State off balance. It was good to see her have that strong of a start. She has been coming in relief quite a bit this season, so to give her a start and see her be that strong was good to see.”
At the plate, senior infielder Jessie Roane’s bat exploded to drive in four runs on a career-high four hits, including a home run and two doubles. Kansas opened the day by outhitting Coppin State, 14-5, with five doubles from Roane (2), senior Erin McGinley (2) and sophomore Sam Dellinger.
The Jayhawks were held scoreless in the first inning, but scored in every following inning until a 10-2 seven-inning victory over the Golden Eagles. Minor recorded five strikeouts in the last three innings to secure the win.
Sunday was the first-ever meeting between Coppin State and Kansas on the softball diamond.
Kansas kept up its offense pressure in a 12-1 six-inning victory over Central Arkansas (4-5), while junior Andie Formby (5-0) allowed just two hits during her complete-game victory.
All nine Jayhawks in the starting batting order recorded at least one hit in game two of the day against the Sugar Bears.
Kansas used a seven-run third inning and a four-run sixth inning to close the weekend with a victory.
The first five KU batters in the third inning reached base and eventually scored, including Roane hitting a two-RBI double to drive in the first runs of the third. Senior Mikayla Warren cleared the bases in one at-bat thanks to a UCA throwing error. Warren hit a single and advanced all the way home after an errant throw by the first baseman.
KU’s sixth inning included a pair of two-run home runs by senior catcher Harli Ridling and freshman shortstop Shelby Gayre to give Kansas an eight-run lead to reach the threshold of the run rule. Ridling and Gayre both have three home runs on the season.
After allowing UCA’s only run in the third inning on back-to-back doubles, Formby retired the next 11 batters in order to clinch the victory for the Jayhawks.
Sunday was the second all-time meeting between Central Arkansas and Kansas. The previous meeting was a 2-1 KU victory on Feb. 8, 2008 in Orlando, Florida.
“We are getting better offensively — we are getting better every time we come out,” Smith concluded. “It’s good to see us handling the adversity of weather delays this week — not being able to practice as much. To see them really focused and locked-in. Right now our offensive lineup — one through nine — looks really strong. We are getting production from every part of our lineup.”
Kansas returns home for a season-opening doubleheader against South Dakota State on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. The doubleheader against the Jackrabbits at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park was added to the schedule last week.
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