Jayhawks get revenge on Jackrabbits with 8-0 victory

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BEAUMONT, Texas – Kansas softball avenged a 3-2 loss to South Dakota State in the Osprey Invitational on February 19 with a commanding 8-0 victory over the Jackrabbits four days later in the Cardinal Classic hosted by Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
Sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid (4-1) set out to make things right for Kansas (8-3), making quick work of the Jackrabbits (3-8) in the first inning. The Blue Springs, Missouri product induced three fly outs to left field to get things started and picked back up with more of the same in the second and third innings.
A single to center field that was nearly gloved by the Kansas defense was the only thing happening for SDSU in the second and an error on a mishandled ball by Reid in the third didn’t cause any harm as KU left runners stranded in both innings.
“Alexis threw really well today,” head coach Megan Smith said. “I felt like she was poised and hit her spots really well. It is great to see her put some of these zeros on the board.”
After a quiet first and second innings from the Kansas offense, things got loud in the third, starting with four-straight hits from the Jayhawks. Senior Taylor Dodson led off the inning with her second hit of the game, a single through the left side of the infield and junior catcher Harli Ridling followed Dodson with a double that was smashed over the right fielder’s head, putting two runners in scoring position.
Junior Erin McGinley drove in the game’s first run with a hard-hit single up the middle, her fourth RBI of the season. Keeping the rally going, freshman Madison Sykes drove in another run with a single that touched the grass in center field.
Kansas reloaded the bases after freshman Becki Monaghan was hit by a pitch, forcing South Dakota State to make a change in the circle. The change didn’t help much however, as senior shortstop Taylor McElhaney worked a walk after a fielder’s choice for the inning’s first out.
Leading 3-0 with just one out in the inning, Kansas continued to pour it on. Another fielder’s choice prevented a run, but junior Jessie Roane drove in two to add to the KU lead and add to her team-high RBI total, giving her RBIs 14 and 15 this season.
“I felt like we strung a lot of quality at bats together in the third,” Smith said. “Even taking walks, getting hit by pitches, timely hitting, I felt like everything came together and worked really well for us.”
Reid retired all six batters she faced in the fourth and fifth innings and the Jayhawk offense took advantage of a couple of defensive miscues by the Jackrabbits in the bottom of the fifth to extend their lead.
Junior right fielder Annie Mehringer led off the bottom of the fifth inning by reaching on and error by the SDSU third baseman. Senior left fielder Lily Behrmann followed suit after a sacrifice bunt by McElhaney, reaching on an error by the first baseman to give the Jayhawks two baserunners with one out.
Roane picked up RBI number three for the game and 16 for the season with some heads-up base running from Mehringer. On an easy grounder to the second baseman, Mehringer made a dash for home before pulling up and the second baseman didn’t do a great job of looking her back before throwing to first for the easy out. As soon as the throw was made, Mehringer took off and scored to make the game 6-0.
“Annie didn’t get a great read off the bat but it worked out for her,” Smith said. “She was able to capitalize on the defender kind of turning her back on that play to throw to first. Annie is just a gritty baserunner, that is why we like her so much. She goes out there and plays really hard all of the time.”
South Dakota State made their first real threat of scoring in the game in the sixth inning, picking up two hits in the inning, including a single to center that sent the lead runner from first to third, but with two outs, Reid produced an easy pop up in foul territory for Roane to take care of and end the inning.
Needing two runs to end the game an inning early, the Jayhawks got just that. McGinley picked up her second hit of the game with a one-out single and stole her team-high ninth base this season. Sykes followed McGinley with a walk and both runners moved up a base on an illegal pitch.
“To me, Madison Sykes was a huge plus that game,” Smith said. “She was two-for-two, drew two walks and played great defense. She just had a really good game all-around.”
Coach Smith elected to bring in three-consecutive pinch hitters, the first of which being Courtney Taylor who walked to load the bases. Freshman Brittani Reid was the second pinch hitter but was unable to get a fly ball deep enough for a sacrifice. Junior Sarah Miller was the third and final pinch hitter of the game, as she ripped a single up the middle for her first hit of the season, driving in two runs for the 8-0 victory.
“Sarah can hit,” Smith said. “She does really well offensively, and I felt like that was a time where she could be really successful and she certainly was.
“Our batters are learning from each at bat. Whatever mistakes they make in their first at bat, they know that is what they need to work on in the second at bat and they have a better plan. (Associate head coach John Rittman) works with them on those plans and they are just more focused. I think we created a lot of opportunities, we had great fight and bounced back from last weekend for this game.”
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