Miller, timely hits power Jayhawks over Stetson, 2-1

DeLAND, Fla. — Behind a career-high nine strikeouts from senior pitcher Sarah Miller and a two-run homerun from senior infielder Jessie Roane, Kansas softball defeated Stetson on Friday night at Patricia Wilson Field, 2-1. The Jayhawks finish day one of the season-opening Stetson Leadoff Classic with a 2-0 record.

Miller (1-0) maintained a no-hit performance in the circle through six innings before allowing Stetson’s first hit in the seventh inning — a single through the left side.

“Sarah threw the best she has thrown since she has been here,” Kansas head coach Megan Smith said. “She was confident in attacking the hitters and very poised. I was really pleased with her performance tonight.”

Kansas outhit Stetson as a team, 4-1. On the relatively quiet offensive night, Kansas seniors Erin McGinley and Jessie Roane proved to pack the decisive punch in the fourth inning. McGinley led off the fourth with a triple — the first of her career — down the left field line. Roane followed by hitting a two-run home run over the right field fence.

“Those two seniors came through in big-time fashion,” Smith said. “It was good to see them step up in that way when our team really needed them. What Erin and Jessie did in the fourth inning was the difference in the game for us.”

As Kansas tacked on two runs, Miller kept dealing heat from the circle. After Roane’s home run in the bottom of the fourth, Miller retired the next six batters she faced in the fifth and sixth innings.

Miller had retired seven-straight batters before giving up the leadoff single in the seventh which broke up her chance, for now, to become the 27th Jayhawk to toss a no-hitter. Following a walk which put two runners on base with no outs, junior pitcher Andie Formby subbed into the circle hours after earning the win during KU’s season-opening victory over Akron. Formby was able to keep the Hatters at bay to notch her first-career save.

Stetson’s only run was scored as a result of a KU fielding error with two outs. But with two outs and the bases loaded, the Jayhawks didn’t fold — ending the game on an infield fly to Roane at third base. Kansas stranded a total of eight Stetson runners on base on Friday night, including three in the final inning.

“We made some mistakes, but we didn’t fall apart. We stepped up and we got stronger,” Smith concluded. “It’s a good thing to see so early in the season. We have been working on the mental side of the game a lot in the off season and I think it was evident in that game. There were several opportunities for us to mentally check-out and throw in the towel. We fought and bounced back and stayed composed.

Kansas returns to Patricia Wilson Field for another doubleheader on Saturday. The Jayhawks face 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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