Jayhawks come up short against FIU, 4-3
ORLANDO, Fla. – Kansas softball overcame an early deficit to Florida International, taking a lead in the fourth inning of Saturday’s contest in Orlando, Florida, but the Panthers rallied back with runs in the fifth and sixth innings to top the Jayhawks, 4-3.
FIU (14-5) scored a run in each of the first two innings off Kansas (12-7) junior pitcher Sarah Miller (2-2), as she allowed five total hits to the Panthers in the first two stanzas.
Kansas was able to tie things up in the third inning on a hit and an error by the FIU defense. Senior shortstop Taylor McElhaney was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and senior outfielder Lily Behrmann moved her over with a well-executed sacrifice bunt.
Junior Amanda Organ was able to move McElhaney to third with her first of two hits in the game, a single to left field, and junior Jessie Roane advanced both runners a base with another great sacrifice bunt, giving the Rio Rancho, New Mexico product an RBI and cutting the FIU lead in half.
The Jayhawks then feasted on a pair of FIU blunders as Organ moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring an unearned run on an error by the Panthers’ second baseman on a Becki Monaghan grounder. The Jayhawks left one runner stranded in the inning however, as freshman Madison Sykes flew out to end the inning.
Junior Erin McGinley singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning with the score still tied at two runs, and junior catcher Harli Ridling followed suit with her first of two hits in the ballgame, a single through the left side of the infield. Miller helped her own cause by laying down a sacrifice bunt and she reached to load the bases as an attempted throw to third to get the lead runner was late, loading the bases with no outs.
After a pop up from McElhaney for the first out, Behrmann tallied an RBI to give Kansas the 3-2 advantage.
The Kansas lead didn’t last long though, as FIU drew even in the fifth inning. After a lineout to start the inning, Stephanie Texiera hit the first home run off Miller this season, a solo shot to left center to make the score 3-3.
The Jayhawks limited the fifth inning damage to just the solo homer, leaving an FIU runner stranded to end the inning, but the Panthers rattled Miller a bit in the sixth. The Fort Worth, Texas product struck out the first batter of the inning, but a double and a groundout put a runner at third, and head coach Megan Smith elected to bring in freshman Mandy Roberts to try to get out of the jam.
Roberts, who was coming off a career highlighting day as she picked up the win in the circle in both of the Jayhawks’ games on Friday. The freshman wasn’t able to keep that momentum going immediately in her appearance though, and gave up an RBI single to the first batter she faced to allow FIU to regain the lead at 4-3.
Ridling tallied her second hit of the game with a one out single through the left side of the infield in the sixth inning, but Kansas was held off the board in the inning.
Roberts worked a clean seventh inning, throwing just five pitches to work through the Panthers’ two, three and four-hole hitters, giving Kansas one final chance to tie things up or take the game on a walk off.
McElhaney walked to lead off the inning, and Behrmann moved her over for the second time in the game with a sacrifice bunt. Organ picked up her second hit of the game on an infield single to keep the rally going before Roane fouled out to leave Kansas down to their final out.
Luck looked to be on Kansas’ side for a second, as Monaghan hit an easy ball to the first baseman, but it was mishandled and she was safe at first. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, Organ and McElhaney rounded the bases a little too aggressively and a rundown ensued that ended with McElhaney out on the play to end the ballgame.
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