High Powered Offense Leads KU Past SIU, 10-4
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Kansas used a balanced hitting effort to beat Southern Illinois, 10-4, on Saturday afternoon, sweeping the Coach B Classic and earning head coach Megan Smith her 200th win at Kansas.
Last year Smith led KU to its first 40-win season, the most Kansas wins in a single season since 1997. Smith has guided the Jayhawks to the 30-win mark in each of the last five season.
KU (11-8) saw seven different Jayhawks record a hit to combine for 10 runs in three innings. Despite a four-run sixth frame from the Salukis (8-7), Kansas’ stout defense kept SIU’s offense at bay for the majority of the game.
A pitcher’s duel ensued for the first three innings as Kansas’ Monique Wesley and Southern Illinois’ Savanna Dover combined for just one hit. Wesley tossed four consecutive strikeouts over a stretch of the second and third frames.
For the first time during the four-game tournament, Kansas found its way on the board before its opponent with an explosive fourth inning. The Jayhawks worked their way through the lineup as senior shortstop Chaley Brickey led off with a single up the middle. Sophomore first baseman Daniella Chavez reached base after getting hit in the back to bring up redshirt sophomore catcher Harli Ridling, who connected on an RBI single to start the hitting frenzy.
Kansas went on to wear out the right field with three-consecutive hits finding its way down the first base line. Junior utility Lily Behrmann struck first with a RBI single, followed by a RBI double from sophomore infielder Jessie Roane and another RBI single from junior infielder Taylor McElhaney to lead the Salukis, 4-0, after the fourth inning.
“We were getting on base quite a bit at the top of our order and they were walking Chaley, which was probably smart for them to do,” said head coach Megan Smith. “But it gave the bottom of our order some opportunities and we hadn’t come through until this last game the bottom of our order did a great job and made some things happen.”
The Jayhawks continued to keep their bats hot working through the lineup once again in the top of the fifth inning. A pair of walks and a single loaded the bases before KU ever registered an out. Junior utility Taylor Dodson nicked a ball between third and home to bring in Kansas’ fifth run of the day. Kansas kept the bases loaded and tacked on two more runs from a hit-by-pitch and walk, heading into the sixth with a 7-0 advantage.
The defense shined in the home half of the fifth as Wesley tossed her seventh strikeout of the day winning a 13-pitch battle by catching a Saluki looking. Senior outfielder Shannon McGinley tallied the third out with a diving catch in left field, leaving Southern Illinois scoreless through five.
“Mo had a phenomenal outing,” Smith said. “That one hit derailed her mentally, but other than that she had a great first five innings. She just needs to be mentally tough, giving up a hit like that you have to bounce back and she failed to do that. Other than that she did great.”
Back-to-back walks and a pair of early Saluki errors gave Kansas room to tack on three more runs in the top of the sixth inning. Roane took advantage of having runners on first and second to collect two more RBIs on a single, tallying two of the three runs. KU held a 10-0 lead.
Southern Illinois used four runs in the bottom of the sixth to keep the run rule from being implemented. A lead-off home run from Kelsey Gonzalez got SIU’s offense going. The Salukis followed the long ball with a single and walk to force Kansas to call on sophomore hurler Andie Formby to take over for Wesley in the circle. Hannah Porter connected on a single up the middle to earn two RBIs, while Shaye Harre grabbed the fourth on a single of her own.
Wesley earned the win, only walking two batters in five compete innings of work. Dover was credited the loss, giving up nine runs in five innings.
Kansas returns to Rock Chalk Park after a 19-game road swing to host the Jayhawk Invitational March 12-14. KU will host Missouri State, Western Illinois, Nebraska Omaha and Northern Iowa as KU plays the next nine of 10 games at home. The Jayhawks’ weekend finale against Nebraska Omaha will be the first of six televised games this season.
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