Big Fourth Inning Propels Jayhawks to Victory, 10-0
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the first three and half innings, an old fashioned pitcher’s duel was taking place until Kansas softball surged ahead with a 10-run fourth inning to open the three-game Big 12 Conference series with a shutout over Texas Tech, 10-0, on Friday night at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
It looked like it was going to come down to the final innings or even extra innings to decide the winner of the first game of the series, but the Jayhawks (25-13, 2-2 Big 12) took the lead in the fourth inning and never looked back. KU scored 10 runs on eight hits in the fourth frame, including two hits and six RBIs by redshirt sophomore catcher Harli Ridling.
“Certainly, we didn’t expect that,” said head coach Megan Smith of the run-rule victory. “We played a really good game tonight and worked hard all week to prepare for Texas Tech, that showed today. We were confident , very calm in our approach and it paid off.”
Ridling, who finished the night 2-for-3 at the plate, recorded six RBIs in a single game for the second time this season. She also registered six runs batted in against UNLV (2/27). Senior shortstop Chaley Brickey went 3-for-3 in the batter’s box with a RBI and run scored to round out KU’s multi-hit efforts. In all, Kansas outhit Texas Tech 11-5.
“I was thinking after she got drafted, maybe she would relax and enjoy the rest of her ride here, and that’s what she did today,” Smith said of Brickey’s performance. “She kept it simple and didn’t try to do too much. She came through and sparked us a few times, she led off the game with a hit, which always gives us confidence. She had a great day all around and made a great defensive play to end the game.”
In the last four games, Kansas has posted run-rule victories over it’s opponents. Friday night’s shortened game marks the first run-rule win during conference action. The Jayhawks’ offense has also scored 10 or more runs in each of the last four games. and in the last five games KU has outscored its opponents 45-3.
“I think it was huge, especially after they swept us two years ago on our home field,” Ridling said of starting the weekend with a shutout victory. “It was a big deal for us to come out and win, 10-0, because its gives us momentum going into the rest of the weekend.”
The Red Raiders (19-22, 4-3 Big 12) threatened to the lead after the leadoff batter junior outfielder Jordan Bettiol reached base with a single up the middle. She advanced as far as third base before sophomore right-hander Andie Formby ended the opening half of the first.
“Andie did great,” said Smith. “She got into some jams and they had opportunities to capitalize on, but Andie shut the door on those. She was really composed and did a really nice job today. She gave our offense some time and that’s what we need her to do, give out offense time to work.”
Brickey, who is the most recent Jayhawk selected in the National Pro Fastpitch draft, led off the bottom of the first with a single to centerfield. Senior outfielder Shannon McGinley moved Brickey into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Kansas added a second base runner after sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez reached via base on balls, but Texas Tech halted KU’s momentum by turning a double play to end the frame.
Similar to the first inning, Kansas had two runners reach after junior second baseman Taylor McElhaney walked and Brickey registered her second base hit, but the Red Raiders once again ended the Jayhawk threat with their second double play of the ballgame.Jessie Roane
With two runners in scoring position, Ridling gave Kansas a two-run lead after bringing home the runners in scoring position with a double to left center. Junior utility Lily Behrmann doubled KU’s advantage with a two-run home run over the fence in left field. Behrmann’s fourth long ball of the season increased the Jayhawks’ lead, 4-0.
Brickey extended the fourth-inning offensive surge by plating the fifth run of the frame with her third base hit. Following Brickey’s RBI single, Chavez added another run for the Crimson and Blue with a base knock. With the bases loaded and a six-run advantage, Ridling sealed the lead for the Jayhawks by launching the ball over the wall in left field, her second grand slam of 2016.
With 10 runs on the scoreboard, Formby headed back out to the circle with less pressure in the fifth. She worked around a pair of Texas Tech hits before recording her 15th victory in the circle. Formby struck out three while surrendering five hits and two walks.
“Honestly, Andie this season has left me speechless,” Ridling said. “She has had great control and command out there in the circle. I know that whenever she steps out into the circle, everybody behind her are confident she is going to get the job done. We can take a deep breath and relax, knowing that she isn’t going to give up many runs, and as an offense give us time to do our thing and produce runs.”
Formby tossed five scoreless innings to record her ninth shutout of the season. She has posted a shutout in three of her last four outings, and just one run in the last 21 innings pitched. Formby’s ninth shutout of 2016 dropped her ERA to 1.89 in nearly 126 innings of work.
Kansas continues it three-game Big 12 Conference series against Texas Tech Saturday, April 16 at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.