Kansas opens 2018 with victory over Akron, 5-3

DeLAND, Fla. — Kansas softball used a four-run sixth inning and a complete-game effort from junior pitcher Andie Formby to open the 2018 season with a 5-3 victory over Akron on Friday afternoon at Patricia Wilson Field.

“It’s always good to get that first win of the season,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said. “We weren’t as sharp as I’d hoped, but it’s also the first game of the year and you can expect some up-and-downs in the first game. We settled it down and figured it out.”

Formby (1-0), pitching for the first time since 2016 after missing last season with an injury, improves to 17-7 during her career at Kansas after finishing with six strikeouts, four hits allowed and three earned runs allowed through just 25 batters faced.

The Jayhawks (1-0) went up early after a first-inning solo home run from four-year starting catcher Harli Ridling. But Akron (0-1) — the designated home team for the neutral-site tilt — answered with a solo home run of its own from Kayla Wulf in the second inning to tie the contest, 1-1.

Akron added two two-out runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead. Three of Formby’s four hits allowed came in the third inning as Caitlin Gambone hit an RBI double to left center, scoring Madison Carter who reached on a single. On the next at-bat, Laura Lakins singled up the middle to score Gambone and give the Zips its two-run lead.

Seven players made their debuts as Jayhawks on Friday, including five starters. Their presence was especially felt in KU’s decisive four-run sixth inning.

Sophomore infielder Sam Dellinger, a 2017 All-BIG EAST performer at Creighton, gave KU’s offense a shot in the arm with a one-out single. Freshman designated hitter Syndee Ramsey drew a walk to put two runners on for sophomore first baseman Becki Monaghan. Monaghan ripped a base hit up the middle to drive in Dellinger for the first run of the inning. Starting right fielder Brynn Minor — the 2017 junior college national player of the year — drew another walk to load the bases.

With the bases loaded another newcomer, freshman Shelby Gayre, pinch hit and drove in the game-tying run (Ramsey) from third despite grounding out to second base. Starting freshman centerfielder Brittany Jackson was not credited with a hit or two RBIs, but her speed was apparent when running out her chopping grounder to first base which caused a fielding error and allowed a pair of Jayhawks to score — Minor and pinch-running freshman Addie Balderston.

All four runs in the sixth inning were scored by newcomers.

“We have a lot of new ones — five newcomers started today,” Smith continued. “There were a little nerves, but overall the new players came out and did a good job. There was a pinch-hit opportunity that produced a run for a freshman. Sam (Dellinger) did well offensively. It’s also good to get the nerves out. You have your first-game jitters out of the way, and now hopefully they will play with even more confidence tonight.”

Formby closed her complete game effort by retiring the side in the last two innings after Kansas took its 5-3 lead.

Kansas returns to Patricia Wilson Field to face host Stetson on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Central. Live coverage of the contest will be available online via KUAthletics.com/radio and GoHatters.com/watch.

On Saturday, Kansas faces College of Charleston at 10:30 a.m. Central, followed by a rematch against Akron at 12:30 p.m. Central. KU’s run in the Leadoff Classic concludes on Sunday morning against College of Charleston at 9 a.m. Central.





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