Kansas powers past Savannah State, 16-2

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DeLand, Fla. – There was no shortage of offense in Kansas softball’s second game of the season, as the Jayhawks put up their highest run total since February 14, 2015. That Valentine’s Day game was a 25-12 victory over New Mexico State, and while KU didn’t score 25 runs against Savannah State in the second game of the Stetson Lead-Off Classic on Friday, the Jayhawks posted a higher run differential, beating the Tigers by 14 thanks in part to four home runs.
The Jayhawks (2-0) made Savannah State (0-3) pay early, putting up a 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning. Collecting eight hits, including two home runs, Kansas batted around and ran Savannah State starting pitcher Chelsea Malcom out of the game after facing nine batters and picking up just one out.
 Harli Ridling drove in three runs with a home run in the first inning.Junior Harli Ridling fired the opening salvo for Kansas with one out, smashing a ball over the left field bleachers at Patricia Wilson Field, driving in seniors Lily Behrmann and Taylor McElhaney to collect three RBIs.
Freshman Becki Monaghan kept the party going with a two RBI double to right center, bringing in juniors Jessie Roane and Erin McGinley after both singled following the Ridling homer. Back-to-back walks by freshman Madison Sykes and Mikayla Warren loaded the bases and forced Savannah State to replace Malcom in the circle.
The pitching change didn’t help the Tigers much, as McElhaney singled to center to collect 2 RBIs, and a throwing error let Warren trot home to give Kansas the 8-0 lead.
Collecting her sixth-career home run in the season opener, junior Taylor Dodson decided to repeat her efforts in the day’s first game, hitting one out to the palm trees past the right-center field fence to give KU 10 runs in the first inning. All good things must come to an end, however, and Ridling, who started all the scoring with her three-run homer, fouled out to end the first inning.
“Our upperclassmen came ready to play today,” head coach Megan Smith said. “They took over in the game and I was really excited to see them take charge and lead their offense today.”
Junior pitcher Sarah Miller didn’t let her time in the dugout change the way she was working in the circle and she faced just three batters in the second to allow the Jayhawk offense to go back to work.
Savannah State couldn’t find an answer for the Jayhawks’ hot bats and another four runs were added to the board for Kansas in the bottom of the second. Roane led off with a single through the left side and McGinley matched her efforts with a single to right. With two outs and runners at second and third, Warren collected an RBI with a single to the pitcher to make it 11-0.
An errant throw from Savannah State trying to catch Warren on a steal attempt brought in another run, before Behrmann hit KU’s third home run of the game to give the Jayhawks a 14-0 lead after two.
Savannah State picked up runs in the third and fourth innings, but Kansas match with runs of their own. Dodson continued her stellar day with her second homer of the game to lead off the third inning.
“Taylor Dodson put on a show all day today and I am so proud of her,” Smith said. “She has kind of been a role player for three years, has always had a great attitude and has been a leader for us. I am just really happy to see her come through big for us today.”
Freshman Zara Voulgaris capped the Jayhawk offense with a pinch hit RBI ground out in the fourth, leaving Kansas with the 16-2 win.
The Jayhawks will face Savannah State again on Saturday, February 11 at 10 a.m. CST before facing Lead-Off Classic host Stetson at 3 p.m. CST. Both games will have a live, free audio broadcast available on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio and the second game will also be available over the airwaves on KJHK 90.7 FM.
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