NIU scores three in the seventh to walk-off on Kansas, 3-2
BEAUMONT, Texas – Kansas softball let a two-run seventh inning lead slip on Friday night as Northern Illinois took advantage of a defensive miscue, rallying to score three runs to defeat the Jayhawks 3-2 in the Cardinal Classic hosted by Lamar University.
Redshirt freshman Ania Williams made the start in the circle for Kansas (8-4) and posted a solid 5 1/3 innings of work, allowing just three hits and no runs with four strikeouts.
The Spring, Texas native didn’t get much in the way of run support from her offense, as the Jayhawks were only able to muster one run in her time in the circle.
That run, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch from junior catcher Harli Ridling, came after the Jayhawks had stranded six runners in the previous four innings. Even with the run, Kansas could have added more in the inning, but left the bases loaded to bring their total to nine runners left on base through the first five frames.
Replacing Williams in the circle, Mandy Roberts took over in the sixth inning with one out and one runner on base. Roberts made quick work of the next two batters to get out of the inning with a 1-0 lead.
The Jayhawks looked to have picked up enough to win the game with a big two-out RBI double from junior Erin McGinley for her second hit of the game and fourth of the day. Ridling, who walked in the plate appearance prior to McGinley’s clutch hit, went first-to-home to add a big insurance run. The Jayhawks left one more stranded as freshman Courtney Taylor struck out to end the at bat.
Roberts allowed a walk to start the bottom of the seventh, but induced a foul out to the next batter to get the first out of the inning. The second out looked to be in the books when the next batter hit a fly ball out to left field with senior Lily Behrmann camped under it, but the Overland Park, Kansas product took her eyes off the ball to check on the runner and it fell to the turf to allow the batter to reach on the error.
The next Northern Illinois (4-2) batter walked and a sacrifice fly cut the KU lead to 3-1. The following batter drove in another run with a single to tie the game at two.
Head coach Megan Smith decided to bring in sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid to try to get the final out of the inning and take it to extras, but the first batter Reid faced laced a ball into center field for the walk-off RBI.
McGinley was the only Kansas batter to tally a multi-hit game, going two-for-four in the contest. Behrmann, Taylor, Becki Monaghan and Taylor McElhaney each notched one hit in the game.
The Jayhawks are back in action on Saturday, February 25 with a doubleheader against Lamar and Tulsa. First pitch against Lamar is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. CST with the game against Tulsa to follow. Both games will be broadcast through the Jayhawk Radio Network, available online for free at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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