Jayhawks take down Akron in season opener, 2-1

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DeLand, Fla. – Sunny skies and palm trees were the perfect setting for Kansas softball’s season opener. A 2-1 victory over Akron made things even better as the Jayhawks took down the Zips Friday morning at Patricia Wilson Field in DeLand, Florida in the opening game of the Stetson Lead-Off Classic.
Powered by six hits offensively, the Jayhawks (1-0) were backed by sound defense and a six-strikeout effort in the circle from sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid.
 Alexis Reid pitched a complete game with six strikeouts.
“I think (Alexis) had a great first game,” head coach Megan Smith said. “I was most proud of the fact that they came out and kind of punched us in the face early, and Lex fought right back and shut them down the rest of the game. She had some really great stuff today I am really proud of her effort.”
That punch, a one-out RBI single through the right side in the bottom of the first inning, was one of just two times Reid and the Kansas defense let runners in scoring position. Akron (0-1) center fielder Ashley Sims led off the game with a single to first and a sacrifice bunt moved her into scoring position. Sims then stole third and a single through the right side gave the Zips a 1-0 lead.
Things didn’t stay that way for long. Leading off the third inning for KU, senior Taylor Dodson leveled the score with one swing, a no-doubt home run to straightaway-center.
With things even at one, Reid began to find her groove in the circle. Two soft-rolling, one-out singles from Akron in the third didn’t hurt the Jayhawks, as the sophomore pitcher and Blue Springs, Missouri native struck out her second batter of the game and induced a groundout to leave two runners stranded.
“It felt great to be out there today,” Reid said. “I really just tried my best to stay focused and go with what I knew I could throw, and I just tried to keep them off balance a little bit.”
Things were quiet for both teams until the fifth, when Kansas junior Jessie Roane led off with a single to center. After a lineout from freshman Becki Monaghan, Dodson notched her second hit of the game, a single to left to put runners at first and second. A two-out walk from senior Lily Behrmann loaded the bases but the Kansas offense stranded three after a fly out from junior Annie Mehringer ended the threat.
Reid made quick work of the Akron offense in the bottom of the fifth and the Jayhawks took advantage of a free baserunner in the sixth to take a late lead.
Junior catcher Harli Ridling reached on an error with one out after a high popup to third was misplayed. A walk from junior Sarah Miller put runners on first and second for Roane with one out. Lacing a double down the left field line, the Rio Rancho, New Mexico native gave the Jayhawks the 2-1 lead and Kansas never looked back. Alexis Reid shut the door on the Akron offense, facing just seven batters in the final two innings.
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