Kansas’ Comeback Falls Short to No. 22 Gophers, 4-2
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With two outs in the final frame, Kansas softball had the tying run on base and the game-winning run at the plate, but KU’s late-game rally fell short against No. 22 Minnesota, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park.
The Golden Gophers scored four runs early on before senior right-hander Monique Wesley took over and shut down Minnesota’s offense. The Fontana, California product tossed five scoreless innings of relief and limited the Gophers to two hits, while allowing three walks.
“Andie, obviously, didn’t have the start that any of us wanted, but it’s great when you can go to the bullpen and they do their job,” head coach Megan Smith said. “Monique came in and went right at them. I felt like for her to be able to go in and throw quality pitches gave us a chance to win the game. Lots of credit to Monique today, she threw well.”
After opening the game with a scoreless frame, Formby’s scoreless streak came to an end in the second after senior right fielder Sydney Fabian put the Golden Gophers on the scoreboard. Fabian’s RBI single to centerfield gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Prior to the run, Formby recorded 28 and two-thirds innings of scoreless work, including three-straight complete-game shutouts.
Formby’s day ended early after surrendering four earned runs and three walks. The sophomore right-hander dropped to 8-2 on the season with the loss in the circle.
Despite the slow start, Kansas’ offense applied pressure late in the game and attempted to take the lead in the final couple of innings, but KU’s rallies were halted each time. The Jayhawks ended the game with eight hits, including a 3-for-3 performance at the plate by Brickey.
“Offensively, we had some good at-bats and the top of our order came through,” said Smith. “We had some clutch situations and just didn’t get it done. At the end of the game, you want Daniella (Chavez) up. With runners at first and second and a chance to win the game, but she’s struggling a little bit and she needs to get back to being confident and attacking. There’s no question she will get back to doing what she does.”
Senior outfielder Shannon McGinley led off the bottom of the first with a single through the right side and advanced to second base on a sacrifice hit, while fellow senior Chaley Brickey drew a walk to give KU a pair of base runners. Although Kansas opened the bottom half of the inning with a base hit and a walk, the side was retired with both Jayhawks stranded.
In the top of the third, Minnesota extended its advantage, 4-0, after plating three runs. Senior catcher Taylor LeMay ignited the third-inning rally with her second home run of the season. The final two runs of the inning crossed home plate after the Gophers hit a RBI single and RBI double, as KU headed to the bottom half of the inning trailing by four runs.
Brickey put Kansas on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, doubling to left centerfield, she drove in KU’s first run of the game. Following the RBI double, the Jayhawks continued to apply pressure offensively and loaded the bases. Junior utility Lily Behrmann walked in a run, cutting Minnesota’s lead, 4-2, before the Gophers turned two to end KU’s threat.
Wesley, in her ninth appearance of the season, tossed a 1-2-3 fourth frame, which put KU’s offense back to work quickly in the bottom half of the inning. However, Minnesota ace junior Sara Groenewegen matched Wesley’s 1-2-3 inning to end the fourth frame.
In the top of the sixth, Wesley worked her way out of a bases loaded jam without harm. The Gophers loaded the bases with one out before Wesley threw a runner out at home and induced a fly out to centerfield to end the threat.
Wesley threw another 1-2-3 in the seventh for her fifth scoreless inning of relief work as Kansas headed to the bottom half of the final inning down by two runs. Sophomore outfielder Erin McGinley started the two-out rally after reaching base via fielding error. Brickey moved the runner over with an infield single before Minnesota struck out KU’s final batter to secure the win, 4-2.
“Overall, offensively, we can do a better job of taking care of details,” Smith said. “Base running bit us a little bit today and we can do a better job with that. It’s controlable and we will get better at that.”
Groenewegen improved to 13-4 in the circle after striking out eight Jayhawks. Although she recorded the win, Groenewegen gave up eight hits and four walks.
Kansas concludes the Rock Chalk Challenge on Sunday, March 20 against Saint Louis. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. on the Jayhawk Radio network.
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