Kansas defeats UMASS, falls to Iowa

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Kansas softball (1-5) netted its first win of the season against UMASS, defeating the Minutewomen, 4-2, and spitting its two games on day one of the Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom Invitational. The Jayhawks fell to Iowa in game two, 2-1. 
The victory marked many firsts for the 2019 squad. It marked head coach Jennifer McFalls first victory and the first win of 2019, while also registering as Kirsten Pruett’s first career win and Miranda Rodriguez’s first hit of the season.
Kansas 4, UMASS 2
Kansas opened their first game of competition against a foe that had yet to play in 2019.
UMASS (0-1) opened their season at the Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom and opened the scoring in the fourth inning off starting Kansas pitcher Brynn Minor. Minor pitched a scoreless three innings to start the game and the Jayhawks were also not able to plate a run in the same frames.
In the fourth, UMASS netted one run, but again both teams were held scoreless in the fifth, which proved to be the last full inning for Minor in the circle. After another run crossed the plate for the Minutewoman, Kansas broke its scoring streak.  
Shelby Gayre opened the inning with a single up the middle and scored on a double by Rodriguez, her first hit of the season. Shelby Hughston added a double in the next at bat and plated two more runs, giving the Jayhawks the lead.
Hughston netted an insurance run after Madison Sykes slapped a single up the middle, earning the 4-2 result.
Kirsten Pruett came in relief for Minor, pitching the final two innings and securing her first career win.
Iowa 2, Kansas 1
After earning its first victory of the season, Kansas softball looked to recap a perfect-Florida day with another victory over Iowa. Iowa (2-4) entered the contest with a loss earlier in the day to Villanova.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to an early lead in the first inning, securing a run on Kansas starting pitcher Pruett.
Pruett and the Kansas defense settled down after the opening run and held Iowa scoreless for the next four innings. The Jayhawks were also held scoreless until the seventh inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hawkeyes tacked on another run and pushed their lead to 2-0. Pruett finished her successful day in the circle and gave way to Lexy Mills, who pitched the final out of the sixth inning.
With their backs against the wall, Kansas found success on back-to-back singles by Hughston and Sam Dellinger, but Hughston was called out at second on the short pop up to center field by Dellinger. The tricky play stranded her between first and second.
Down to their last out, Brynn Minor laced a single to right field, plating the Jayhawks lone run of the day.
Kansas finished its day on a ground out to the shortstop.

  • Rodriguez recorded her first hit of the season, a one-out double to left center field in the sixth inning. Rodriguez’s double plated the first run of the game for Kansas against UMASS.
  • Hughston tallied her first double of the season in the sixth inning following Rodriguez’s double. Hughston plated her first two RBI of the season, which gave Kansas the lead.
  • Kirsten Pruett registered her first win of the season and of her career. Pruett pitched in relief against UMASS, tallying 2.0 innings pitched with no earned runs.
  • The 4-2 victory over UMASS was the first victory for head coach Jennifer McFalls.
  • Shelby Gayre and Madison Sykes each recorded a team-high four hits through the two games against UMASS and Iowa.

On the pitching staff …
We have been talking with our pitching staff about how important it is to through strikes and keep us in the game.  We are still trying to figure out how our staff will look and I am working to identify our pitching roles – who can start and who can pitch in relief. Just getting some answers every game. I am very proud of our pitching staff today. Brynn (Minor) going as long as she did and Kirsten (Pruett) closing out the first game and starting the second. Lexy (Mills) was warming up in the bullpen all day and did a really good job doing what we needed her to do.
On scoring runs late and finding success at the end of the game …
It really comes down to the amount of runners we are leaving on base, and we had plenty of opportunities to capitalize on those runners early in the game. It would have taken a lot of pressure off our pitchers and our defense. We have the right players at the plate and we just need to step up. We have a lot of character and I am proud of their fight, but the desire to plate these runs needs to start earlier.

Kansas plays Providence (12:30 PM (CT)) and Bethune-Cookman (3 PM (CT)) on day two of the Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom Invitational.