Jayhawks outlasted by Tulsa in pitching duel, 2-1

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BEAUMONT, Texas – Kansas softball came up just short of a comeback in a 2-1 loss to Tulsa on Saturday night in the Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas. The Jayhawks saw a career-day from Tulsa’s starting pitcher Emily Watson who struck out 15 batters, but Kansas pitcher Sarah Miller went toe-to-toe with the Golden Hurricane junior with a six-hit, two-run complete game.
Two of the six Tulsa (7-7) hits came in the first inning, with Miller allowing a leadoff single and a one-out infield hit. Both runners moved up on a ground out to shortstop Taylor McElhaney, but Miller picked up a big strikeout to leave both runners stranded.
The Jayhawks (9-5) also left two runners hanging in the first inning, with senior Lily Behrmann leading off the inning with her 90th-career walk, which moved her into a tie for sixth all-time in Kansas softball history. The other baserunner for Kansas came by way of catcher’s interference, but Watson registered her first strikeout of the game and induced a ground out to get out of the jam.
Tulsa picked up the first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning with a leadoff single and a two-out RBI to right field. Miller left one Tulsa runner stranded with another big strikeout to keep the Jayhawks close.
Kansas struggled to get anything going against Tulsa’s Watson, with the first hit of the game for the Jayhawks coming in the fourth inning from freshman Becki Monaghan. The freshman tabbed a base knock through the right side to spoil any hopes of a no hitter for Watson, but ended up as the fourth Jayhawk left stranded up to that point in the game.
The Jayhawks went three up, three down the next two innings but Miller kept up the solid work in the circle facing just one over the minimum in the fifth and sixth innings.
Tulsa added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning after a series of unfortunate plays aided the Golden Hurricane offense. The first batter of the inning fouled out, but Miller walked the next Tulsa batter, who then moved to third with a passed ball and wild pitch on back-to-back deliveries.
The runner at third was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice, but a single following the play put another Tulsa runner back on third, before a walk loaded the bases and a wild pitch brought the runner at third home.
With their backs against the wall, Kansas was provided a spark by the way of a one-out home run from junior Harli Ridling that was a no-doubter over the 10-foot wall in center field, her second of the year.
The home run was too little, too late though as the next two batters struck out to end the game and Kansas’ chance at a storybook comeback.
The Jayhawks are back in action on Sunday, February 26 as they face Alabama A&M at 12:30 p.m. CST in the Cardinal Classic finale. The game will have a free online broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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