Kansas ends season with 4-1 triumph over Iowa State
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Paced by a complete-game victory by Sarah Miller and a three-run home run by Sam Dellinger, Kansas softball’s 2018 season came to an end on Sunday afternoon as the Jayhawks defeated Iowa State, 4-1, at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
Kansas (27-25, 2-16 Big 12) clinches the three-game series victory over Iowa State (23-30, 4-14) to conclude the season with two wins in the last three games.
Miller (9-10), one of eight Jayhawks playing their last career game on Sunday, tossed seven innings with five strikeouts and allowed one run. The Fort Worth, Texas, native was cool under pressure by stranding a total of six Cyclone runners on base and holding ISU to a 0-for-5 batting clip with runners in scoring position.
“The highlight of the game was Sarah’s performance in the circle,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith lauded. “I thought she was the best I’ve seen her in the last month-and-a-half. She was poised. I never had one doubt that she wasn’t going to be successful. Just by watching her demeanor and the way she was attacking the hitters, I knew she was going to be successful.”
Seven Jayhawks recorded one hit each, including the top-six batters in KU’s lineup.
Dellinger, who started Sunday as the designated player, came through with a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to give the Jayhawks the early lead that would never be relinquished. Seniors Jessie Roane and Harli Ridling set the table for Dellinger by reaching on a single and a fielding error, respectively.
Iowa State got on the board in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Skyler Ramos. After allowing a walk and two stolen bases later in the fifth, Miller kept the Cyclones in check by striking out ISU’s best hitter, Sami Williams, and forcing a fly-out right field to end the frame with two runners in scoring position.
Senior Mikayla Warren entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning to drive in the fourth and final run of the contest on a double to left-center, scoring Dellinger who reached on a walk.
In the top of the seventh, Miller shut the door on Iowa State by forcing a foul-out to third base and throwing her fifth strikeout of the day before shortstop Shelby Gayre fielded a sharp grounder for the final out.
But it was Ridling, KU’s starting catcher for the 207th and final time, who wanted that final out. Just before the last play of the day, ISU’s Williams popped-up a foul ball that Ridling chased by diving into the first-base dugout, coming just short of catching it despite the effort.
“That’s Harli,” Smith said. “She is going to all-out for the ball. I’ve seen her dive into dugouts before — that wasn’t the first time. She is just a gritty player who wanted that last out really bad.”
Kansas has won 15 of the last 19 games against Iowa State and conclude the season with a winning record (27-25).
KU seniors who played in the final game of their careers on Sunday include Miller, Roane, Ridling, Warren, outfielder Erin McGinley, outfielder Annie Mehringer, infielder Amanda Organ and pitcher Andie Formby.
“Today was all about our seniors’ last chance to play,” Smith said. “Everybody out there had the mindset of playing as hard as we could for our seniors. Today was a great day for those seniors. We are sending them out on a win — most of the time you don’t get to do that in a season. That was great to do that for them.”
All eight will receive their degrees from the University of Kansas next week.
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