Pair of Home Runs Lift Kansas Past Iowa State, 11-5
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A pair of Jayhawk home runs in the fifth inning helped power Kansas to an 11-5 victory over Iowa State on Thursday evening at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
In the first game of the series, Kansas (29-20, 6-9 Big 12) and Iowa State (20-33, 1-15 Big 12) were knotted up five runs each after four innings, but two home runs and an explosive six-run fifth frame gave the Jayhawks the lead, which wouldn’t be relinquished.
Sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez hit the first of two long balls in the fifth, her home run gave Kansas the lead before junior infielder Taylor Dodson hit the second Kansas home run to add two more KU runs. The pair of long balls sparked a six-run fifth as the Jayhawks’ offense blasted past the Cyclones.
“It was exciting to see us jump on top first, we haven’t seen that in a few games, so it was good to see the offense come out and score early,” said head coach Megan Smith. “Daniella (Chavez) and Taylor (Dodson) were key for us during our comeback. Both of them had really critical at-bats to help us take back the lead.”
Kansas registered seven hits, but more impressively the Jayhawks drew nine walks, including three from senior infielder Kylee Kennedy. Chavez and senior shortstop Chaley Brickey each collected two walks, while Chavez was the only Jayhawk to record a multi-hit game. Senior Monique Wesley
“Kylee (Kennedy) getting on base three times and taking three walks was big,” said Smith. “It was a total team effort tonight. We came out as an offensive group and did well. I felt like tonight was a total team effort, which was nice to see.”
Kansas struck first in the opening frame after putting three runs on the scoreboard. Iowa State recorded back-to-back fielding errors allowing the first Jayhawk run to cross home plate. Brickey drove in a run with a RBI up the middle while redshirt sophomore catcher Harli Ridling brought home the final KU run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left field. Ridling was one of three Jayhawks to record a multi-RBI effort at the plate on Thursday.
Iowa State put a dent in the Jayhawks’ advantage in the top of the third. Junior outfielder Cathlin Bingham put the Cyclones on the board with a RBI single to left field. Kansas answered in the bottom half of the inning scoring another run on an error, taking a 4-1 lead into the fourth.
Senior second baseman Brittany Gomez drove in the second Cyclone run in the top of the fourth. Gomez’s RBI single ignited a four-run rally where Iowa State took its first lead of the night, 5-4. The Cyclones one-run advantage was short lived after senior outfielder Briana Evans evened the score with a RBI double to right field.
“Briana (Evans) continues to do a good job of getting on base and is setting the tone for us,” Smith said. “She did well tonight.”
In the bottom half of the fifth, Chavez regained the lead for Kansas with a solo shot to centerfield. Chavez’s 10th home run of 2016 gave KU a 6-5 advantage over the Cyclones. The Jayhawks’ second home run of the inning extended KU’s lead. Dodson launched a two-run home run over the fence in right center, her fourth long ball of 2016, as Kansas took an 8-5 advantage into the sixth. Senior outfielder Shannon McGinley plated two more KU runs with a double. Ridling drove in the final run of the inning with a single. KU’s six runs on four hits gave the Jayhawks an 11-5 lead after five complete innings.
Senior Monique Wesley tossed three and one-third innings of relief on Thursday. Wesley improved to 5-5 on the season after her shutout effort in the circle. Wesley struck out three while allowing three hits and two walks.
“Monique (Wesley) did great,” Smith said. “To get zeroes on the scoreboard during Big 12 play is a hard thing to do and Monique came in and did that. Monique has been doing a good job in Big 12 action. She doesn’t give up many hits and uses her pitches to get outs. Tonight, I thought she did a really good job of keeping zeroes on the board, which was huge for us.”
With the combination of a big offensive fifth frame and shutouts innings from Wesley, the Jayhawks took a 1-0 lead in the series over the Cyclones with the 11-5 win to start the weekend.
Kansas continues its final homestand of the 2016 regular season with Iowa State on Friday, May 13. First pitch of the second game of the series is slated for 5 p.m., on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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