Kansas outlasts UMKC, 5-3
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball opened the 2017 Rock Chalk Challenge with its 16th victory of the season as Kansas outlasted UMKC, 5-3, on Thursday night at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
The Jayhawks (16-9) established a lead in the first inning and didn’t relinquish that advantage, despite the Kangaroos late inning attempt at a comeback. KU outhit the ‘Roos, 10-8, with three Jayhawks recording multi-hit efforts, led by senior outfielder Lily Behrmann’s 3-for-4 performance at the plate.
“It’s a great way to get the weekend started,” said head coach Megan Smith. “We’ve got a tough task this weekend with a couple of phenomenal teams here, so to start out with, and gut out, a win was huge.”
In the circle, sophomore Alexis Reid tossed her 10th complete game of the year and improved to a 9-4 mark this season. The Blue Springs, Missouri native struck out seven, one shy of her career-high mark, while allowing eight hits and two walks.
“She was gutsy tonight,” Smith said Reid’s effort in the circle. “She kept battling and they hit her hard. She came through with a big strikeout or a big out, so I was happy with how she got through it.”
UMKC loaded the bases to open the first meeting since 2015, but Reid settled into a rhythm and sat the next two batters down to leave the bases full of ‘Roos. After getting out of the bases loaded jam, Reid tossed the first of five shutout frames.
Behrmann led off the bottom half of the first with a double to left center, giving KU a runner in scoring position right out of the gate. She advanced to third base on a wild pitch, as the go ahead run for the Jayhawks was now 60 feet away. Junior utility Jessie Roane gave Kansas a 1-0 lead with a RBI double to same spot as Behrmann’s double. Senior infielder Taylor Dodson tacked on another KU run with a RBI single to left field. Dodson’ base hit gave the Jayhawks a two-run advantage after the first inning.
In the top of the third frame, UMKC cut its deficit in half after scoring one run. Sophomore infielder Bri Sims drove in UMKC’s first run with a RBI single to left field, but freshman second baseman Madison Sykes ended the inning with a spectacular play and left the tying run on third base.
“We made some really good defensive plays behind Alexis to save some runs,” said Smith. “Sykes’ play with the bases loaded was huge and a game changer. For a freshman to do that, I was really excited to see.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Kansas was able to add two runs on the scoreboard and increase its lead. With the bases full of Jayhawks, Sykes recording a sacrifice fly before an error brought home the fourth KU run of the game, second of the frame. After scoring two runs, Kansas headed to the fifth inning with a 4-1 advantage over UMKC.
Kansas scored its fifth run of the ballgame on an error in the sixth inning. Behrmann’s third hit set up the play, but an errant throw to first base after the single allowed junior outfielder Annie Mehringer reach home safely. Mehringer’s unearned run gave Kansas a 5-1 lead heading into the final frame of the night.
Despite being down by four runs, UMKC rallied in the top of the seventh and managed to score two runs before Reid was able to end the game. A sacrifice fly and RBI single brought the ‘Roos within two before the final out was made. The Jayhawks held on to defeat UMKC, 5-3, in the first game of the weekend.
Kansas continues action at the Rock Chalk Challenge with No. 12 LSU on Friday, March 17 at 4:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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