Jayhawks edged by Jackrabbits in Osprey Invitational finale

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kansas softball overcame an early two-run deficit to South Dakota State on Sunday in the Osprey Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida, tying the game in the top of the fourth inning, but the Jayhawks couldn’t hold off the Jackrabbits and ultimately fell 3-2.
South Dakota State (3-7) scored the initial run of the ballgame in the bottom of the first inning. The Jackrabbits had runners on first and second with one out when a side-winding grounder was mishandled by senior first baseman Taylor Dodson. The ball kicked off Dodson’s glove, allowing the runner from second to make the turn home without a challenge.
The Jackrabbits added another run in the opening inning with a two-out single, scoring a runner from third following a wild pitch to take a 2-0 lead.
Kansas (7-3) got a run back in the top of the second with a one-out double from freshman Courtney Taylor. Dodson avenged her error with a leadoff single through the right side, and came around to score from second on the freshman’s laser to right center.
The Jayhawks looked to have an opportunity to tie the game in the at bat following Taylor’s double, when junior right fielder Annie Mehringer smashed a double to the wall in left field. Taylor didn’t get a good read on the hit and tagged at second, waiting until the ball hit off the fence to leave the bag, and was only able to advance to third. Both runners were then left stranded as the next two batters were retired on a strikeout and fly out, respectively.
Mandy Roberts took over pitching duties in the bottom of the second after starter Sarah Miller struggled in the first. Miller allowed two hits and two runs (one earned) in her one inning of work, before the freshman came in and plugged away in the circle. Roberts allowed just one hit in her first two innings of work before Kansas was able to even the score in the top of the fourth.
Taylor singled through the left side of the infield with one out and Mehringer followed suit with a nearly identical hit to put two Jayhawks on the pond. After senior shortstop Taylor McElhaney struck out looking, senior left fielder Lily Behrmann ripped a single back up the middle to drive Taylor in, making the score 2-2.
The Jayhawks couldn’t hold on for long though, as the Jackrabbits regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning, leading off with a walk and a sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position. With two outs, SDSU’s Julia Andersen smashed a fly ball deep down the right field line, putting Mehringer on a long run to try to track it down. Hitting the fence at the same time as the ball hit her glove, Mehringer wasn’t able to hold on and the ball rolled away for an RBI triple.
Roberts did a great job of keeping the South Dakota State bats at bay after that point, giving up just one hit the remainder of the game to accumulate a career-high five innings pitched, but the Jayhawk offense couldn’t find a way to come back again, stranding two runners in the sixth and another in the seventh to bring their total in the game to 10 runners left on base.
Kansas gets a chance at a rematch with the Jackrabbits in their next outing, as the Jayhawks travel to Beaumont, Texas for the Cardinal Classic hosted by Lamar University, February 24-26. The Jayhawks will face South Dakota State to open tournament, followed by Northern Illinois, Lamar, Tulsa and Alabama A&M.
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