Kansas splits doubleheader against Colorado State
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas softball played its longest game in 14 years during game one of a doubleheader split against Colorado State on Friday at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. The Jayhawks lost the first game in 12 innings, 8-6, and won the second game in regulation, 6-3.
Despite the game one loss, junior pitcher Brynn Minor (4-3) recorded a Big 12 season-high 14 strikeouts in 9.2 innings pitched. The 2017 junior college national player of the year entered the circle in a bases-load, one-out relief situation in the top of the third inning with KU trailing, 3-0, and proceeded to strikeout five of the next six batters she faced.
“Brynn came in the game in a tough situation and did an unbelievable job,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said. “I know we ended up not winning that first game, but she had really gutsy performance. She did an excellent job. There are a number of things she did well — getting ahead of the count on batters, use her off-speed pitches well — but the bottom line is that Brynn competed hard today. In tough games like that, you have to have someone who is going to compete the entire time and she did just that.”
Minor’s pitching kept Kansas in the game long enough for bottom-of-the-seventh heroics from the Jayhawks to tie the game, 4-4, and force extra innings.
KU’s bottom half of the seventh was sparked by three walks and a double by senior left fielder Erin McGinley. Senior Harli Ridling drew a bases-loaded walk to score the first run of the inning, followed by ground-out RBIs by freshman Tarin Travieso and senior Jessie Roane to score the third and tying run to force extras.
As minutes turned into hours, neither team scored until the 11th inning when CSU’s Corina Gamboa hit an RBI double to give the Rams a 5-4 lead. The Jayhawks quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning as Ridling drove a run in on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice RBI, tying the game, 5-5.
Consecutive two-out RBI hits by Colorado State’s Ashley Michelena and Sarah Muzik in the top of the 12th inning gave the Rams a decisive 8-5 advantage.
In response, freshman Shelby Gayre crushed a home run to center field, but it was all the Jayhawks could muster after a three-hour and 42-minute contest. CSU’s Bridgett Hutton (10-2) threw a complete 12.0 innings with 184 pitches to earn the victory.
“It was a fun game. Not winning wasn’t fun, but it was an exciting game to be a part of,” Smith said. “Both teams played really well and both teams fought. After the first game, you worry that your team is going to be a little deflated having to play the second game of a doubleheader right away. Between the games, I told them there was nothing to be ashamed about the way they fought.”
The 12-inning game one of the doubleheader was the most innings Kansas has played since a 4-3 win over Illinois State on March 14, 2004 that lasted 11 innings and three hours.
Sarah Miller (7-4) entered the circle for Kansas in game two, earning a complete-game victory with four strikeouts through 7.0 innings pitched.
The Jayhawks gave Miller early run support as Ridling blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning for a 2-0 advantage.
The Jayhawks’ lead was cut short by a three-run home run from CSU’s Lauren Buchanan in the top of the third, giving the lead back to CSU, 3-2.
But the Jayhawks poured in four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the go-ahead lead. Sophomore Sam Dellinger drove an RBI double to right field to score junior Emily Bermel and initially tie the contest, 3-3, and spark KU’s flurry in the fifth.
Later in the fifth with the bases loaded, Roane came up clutch with an RBI single to give KU a 4-3 lead. Gayre followed with a two-RBI single to increase KU’s lead to what would be the final score, 6-3.
After Friday’s doubleheader, the series between Kansas and Colorado State now sits at 14-2 all time, in favor of the Jayhawks.
Kansas concludes a three-game series against Colorado State on Saturday at Arrocha Ballpark. Saturday will be the annual Orange Game benefiting Jayhawks for a Cure and kidney cancer awareness.
“The Orange Game is very special for me personally and for my son, Cooper,” Smith shared. “We remember (my late husband) Paul (Buske) all the time — every single day. It’s awesome to have a day where we share his story and have other people remember him and many others who have been affected by kidney cancer. That’s what this is all about.”
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