Jayhawks Outlast Panthers, 3-2
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Senior pitcher Monique Wesley went the distance to help Kansas register its first win of the Coach B Classic, as the Jayhawks beat the Panthers, 3-2, inside Charlotte West Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Wesley relinquished two runs in the first inning, but quickly settled in the circle and kept Eastern Illinois (4-12) scoreless for the remainder of the game with help from the Jayhawks’ (8-8) stifling defense.
“Monique did well today,” said head coach Megan Smith. “She didn’t have her best stuff, but she gutted it out and did really well. She was moving her pitches well enough to get good outs for us and our defense did really well behind her. Aside from that one hit in the first inning, I thought she did a great job.”
The Fontana, California native returned to the circle all seven innings, tossing her first complete game of the season and just the third in her career. She relied heavily on the defense, only striking out two batters and giving up six hits. She made each Panther work in the box, never walking a runner.
Eastern Illinois struck first in the top of the first inning after lead-off batter, Kayla Bear, singled to left field. Wesley went on to force a couple of pop ups, bringing up EIU’s clean-up hitter, Kylie Bennett to the plate. Bennett launched one over center field to give the Panthers a quick 2-0 lead.
The Jayhawks responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning after Shannon McGinley doubled to center field. A double from sophomore Daniella Chavez put S. McGinley at third and set up sister, E. McGinley, to bring her home with a single to right field, trailing EIU, 2-1.
The third inning proved to be the difference maker for Kansas. After the Jayhawks forced two quick outs in the top of the third, EIU attempted a two-out rally with a single down the left line from Jennifer Ames, followed up with a double from Katie Watson to put batters on second and third. Wesley then found herself down 3-0 in the count before working her way out of the hole and inducing a fly out to left field, triggering the third out and stranding two Panthers in scoring position.
Kansas, down 2-1, took to the plate in the home half of the third inning and wore out Eastern Illinois’ pitcher, Jessica Wireman (3-11). Senior shortstop Chaley Brickey led off the inning with her first of three doubles, putting a Jayhawk in scoring position immediately. The Jayhawks would go on to load the bases with a pair of walks from Shannon and Erin McGinley. The team remained calm at the plate, forcing two more walks to give Kansas a one run lead, 3-2. A lead they would keep for the remainder of the game.
“We were a little stale offensively this game,” Smith said. “I thought everything but our defense was really stale. Offensively, we had that one inning where we were patient enough to draw some walks and create some opportunities for us to score there, but we just weren’t in sync this game. Hopefully we can bounce back tonight and do better.”
A four walk third inning gave Kansas the go ahead run. After the third, both squads offenses settled down with neither team registering a run in the next three and half innings.
Brickey highlighted Kansas’ offensive efforts connecting on 3-of-4 plate appearances. She was the only Jayhawk to register multiple hits on the day. Chavez, Shannon McGinley and Erin McGinley tallied a run a piece.
“Chaley had a great day over all, but did great offensively,” Smith said. “She is doing a good job consistently sparking our offense and we just need some help for her.”
Wesley moves to 2-0 in the circle, while Wireman earned the loss. Wireman walked six Jayhawks and gave up six hits.
The Jayhawks will return to the field for their second game of the Coach B Classic with a matchup against Butler. The first pitched is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. inside the Charlotte West Stadium. Every game will be available on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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