Kansas topped by Boston College in extra innings
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ORLANDO, Fla. – Kansas softball erased an early two-run deficit to Boston College on Thursday evening in the Citrus Classic II at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida, but the Jayhawks were unable to gain the advantage over the Golden Eagles and ultimately fell 4-2 in eight innings.
Boston College (9-7) tallied three hits off Kansas (10-6) sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid (6-2) in the first inning, and those hits coupled with a throwing error by senior left fielder Lily Behrmann led to two runs in the opening frame for the Golden Eagles.
After registering a ground out to start the game, Reid allowed three-straight one-out hits to give Boston College the early lead before getting out of the inning with a pair of ground outs to leave a runner stranded.
The first six Kansas batters were put down in order, and Reid found a rhythm in the next two innings to keep the Eagles at bay. Freshman first baseman Becki Monaghan stepped to the plate to lead off the first for the Jayhawks and gave the team its first hit of the game. Senior shortstop Taylor McElhaney was hit by a pitch for the third time this season to continue the inning, and Behrmann worked a walk to effectively load the bases with one out.
Freshman second baseman Madison Sykes tied the ballgame with a hard-hit ball back up the middle that tipped off the end of the Golden Eagles shortstop’s glove and rolled into center field, bringing Monaghan and McElhaney in for the two RBI single.
For the next four innings both teams relied on effective pitching and clutch defense to move through the game. Kansas worked out of a situation in the fifth where they had just one out with runners at second and third, before Reid induced a ground out and a fly out to end the Boston College attack.
Kansas wriggled its way out of an even stickier situation in the top of the sixth inning. The bases were loaded with one out after two walks and a batter hit by a pitch, but a heads-up play by Sykes was made as she threw home for the force out on a grounder from the fifth batter of the inning, before Reid induced yet another ground out to get out of the jam.
Boston College flashed its defensive capabilities in the bottom of the sixth, as they were able to turn a double play to end the inning after two Jayhawk hits.
An error by junior third baseman Jessie Roane gave the Eagles a base runner with one out in the top of the seventh with the score still tied 2-2, but junior catcher Harli Ridling threw out the runner trying to steal second, tallying her eighth of the season. The Jayhawks got out of the inning with a spectacular defensive play by McElhaney, who made a long run from her post at shortstop all the way to foul territory in left field to haul in third out.
The Jayhawks were unable to get anything going in the bottom of the seventh, and for the second time this season KU went into extra innings.
With international tiebreaker rules in effect, Boston College started the inning with a runner on second, and she was quickly moved to third after a walk and a bloop-hit into shallow left field.
A sacrifice squeeze bunt gave the Eagles their first run since the first inning, and bunt single by the next batter moved Boston College’s lead to two. Reid continued to battle though and stranded two runners to let her offense try to get back even.
Senior Mikayla Warren started at second base thanks to the tiebreaker rules, and moved to third on a wild pitch with one out. Head coach Megan Smith elected to have freshman Brittani Reid pinch hit for McElhaney, but the rookie grounded out to put Kansas’ backs against the wall with just one out remaining.
Behrmann kept the hope alive by collecting the 92nd walk of her career to move into a tie for fifth place all-time in the Kansas softball record books, but Sykes couldn’t keep things going and grounded out to end the game.
The Jayhawks continue play in the Citrus Classic II on Friday, March 3 with a doubleheader against Purdue and Mercer. Kansas will face the Boilermakers at 11:15 a.m. CST before taking on the Bears at 3:30 p.m. CST. Both games will be broadcast online, for free on the Jayhawk Radio Network at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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