Panthers Halt Jayhawk Comeback, 4-2
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the bases loaded, Kansas softball had the game-winning run on first base, but the late-inning rally fell short, as Northern Iowa escaped with a 4-2 win over the Jayhawks on Saturday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
For the first time this weekend, Kansas (14-9) didn’t put a run on the scoreboard first. The Panthers took an early lead, which the Jayhawks couldn’t overcome although they had numerous opportunities to steal the advantage in the later innings.
“Definitely not satisfied with losing the game,” said head coach Megan Smith. “But, I was pleased to see how much fight we had in the middle and towards the end of that game. We were in it, we were passionate and fighting to the end. It was a fun game, even though we lost, it was a fun game to see our team fight.”
A UNI scored first in the opening inning after pitcher Chelsea Ross plated the run with a single to left field. The Panthers added three more runs in the third with a RBI single from designated player Alyssa Buchannan, while a bases loaded walk and a ground out drove in the final two runs of the frame.
“You’ve got to give credit to UNI and its pitcher,” said Smith. “I thought she threw a great game up until the end and they were a tough team to play. They are gritty and scrappy, so we have to give a lot of credit to them.”
Through the first three innings, the Panthers registered seven hits and had left seven runners on base. Down 4-0 heading into the fourth, junior utility Lily Behrmann recorded the first of five Jayhawk hits, a single to left field.
Senior Monique Wesley got the start in the circle. She gave up four earned runs and seven hits, while walking two in her fourth start of the year. She dropped to 4-1 with her first loss of 2016. Freshman right-hander Alexis Reid took over in the third frame with one out.
“Obviously, Monique didn’t have the start she wanted or we wanted, but it was good to see Alexis come in and be able to get outs,” Smith said. “She kept them from scoring, which was important for her. She’s had some rough outings and didn’t throw last weekend at all, but it was good to see her come out today and do a much better job.”
Reid worked the first 1-2-3 inning for the Jayhawks in the top of the fourth. The Blue Springs, Missouri native tossed four and two-thirds innings of relief, while surrendering just three hits. After the scoreless outing, Reid’s ERA dropped to 5.39 on the season.
Kansas’ offense went to work in the bottom of the fourth. Senior Chaley Brickey reached base with her 119th career walk, while sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez gave Kansas a pair of base runners with a single to shortstop. However, the Panthers halted KU’s momentum with a double play to end the threat and maintained a 4-0 lead over the Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks threatened again in the sixth and loaded the bases with no outs. Junior infielder Taylor McElhaney led off the frame by reaching base after getting hit by a pitch. Shannon and Erin McGinley followed with a pair of base knocks putting a Jayhawk on each bag. Chavez grounded out for the second out of the inning, but plated the first KU run of the second game.
Redshirt sophomore catcher Harli Ridling continued the sixth-inning rally and drove in another Kansas run with a RBI single through the left side, as Kansas trailed UNI, 4-2. Behrmann walked to load the bases for the second time in the inning with the go ahead run on first base, but Ross worked her back from a full count and induced the final out without further harm.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Kansas loaded the bases for the second-straight frame and with the game-winning run on first base, Chavez stepped into the batter’s box. Buchannan, who took over in the circle for the Panthers ended the final Jayhawk threat, as Northern Iowa edged Kansas, 4-2. After inducing the last out of the game, Buchannan registered her first save of the season.
Kansas concludes the Jayhawk Invitational on Sunday, March 13 against Omaha at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Television Network and the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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