Kansas comeback falls short to Georgia State

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kansas softball put together a valiant comeback effort against Georgia State in the Osprey Invitational hosted by the University of North Florida, but a three-run bottom of the seventh came up just short as the Panthers took a 5-4 win over the Jayhawks. The loss marked the first of the season for KU after going 5-0 to start the year at the Stetson Lead-Off Classic in DeLand, Florida, February 10-12.
Sophomore Alexis Reid started in the circle for Kansas (5-1) and pitched four scoreless innings to start the game, despite allowing four hits, including two in the first inning.
Junior catcher Harli Ridling broke open the scoreless ballgame in the bottom of the third, driving a ball to the wall in left center field with two outs. Junior Erin McGinley, who reached on a base hit and picked up a stolen base on the first pitch of Ridling’s at bat, coasted home on the hit.
Georgia State (6-2) opened the top of the fifth inning with a double down the left field line off Reid, followed by a double to left center to tie the ballgame at one run each. A walk to give the Panthers two baserunners and no outs forced Kansas head coach Megan Smith to make a move and bring in freshman pitcher Mandy Roberts.
Roberts induced a pop up to start her night, getting the first out of the inning, but walked a Panther to load the bases. Georgia State’s Kylee Love broke open the tie game with a swing on a chest-high rise ball that sailed over the fence in left center for a grand slam, giving the Panthers a four-run lead, 5-1.
Roberts, a Lee’s Summit, Missouri product, bounced right back from the grand slam to strike out a batter and get another to pop up to end the top half of the inning. She went on to toss two more innings of scoreless softball, allowing just one hit.
The Kansas bats came alive thanks to a spark from senior shortstop Taylor McElhaney. Leading off the bottom of the seventh inning for the Jayhawks, the Talala, Oklahoma native blasted her first home run of the season and just the third of her career.
Through the first five games of the year, the Jayhawk offense fed off big hits, and things were no different Friday night. Senior Lily Behrmann followed McElhaney’s home run with a single and the KU dugout came to life. Junior Erin McGinley was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced on a wild pitch, giving Kansas runners at second and third with no outs.
Senior Taylor Dodson was unable to drive in a run, but Ridling picked up her team-leading second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to right field, cutting the lead to two.
With McGinley on third and two outs, junior Jessie Roane stepped in the box and hit a single to drive in the run to make the score 5-4, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch her hit into a double and the Jayhawk threat was stopped in its tracks.
Eight Jayhawks collected hits in the game, including two each from Behrmann, Ridling and Roane.
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