Power hitting continues as Kansas tops Savannah State
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DELAND, Fla. – In Kansas softball’s first two games of the 2017 season, the Jayhawks combined for five home runs and things didn’t change on Saturday when they faced Savannah State in the Stetson Lead-Off Classic at Patricia Wilson Field in Deland, Florida. KU totaled four more round-trippers, including three from junior catcher Jessie Roane, who collected seven RBIs as the Jayhawks went on to beat Savannah State, 16-1.
Roane’s home runs were numbers 11, 12 and 13 for her career, with 12 and 13 both coming in the bottom of the fourth inning, including a grand slam in her final at bat of the game.
Mandy Roberts recorded five strikeouts in relief.The Jayhawks fell behind early after freshman Ania Williams allowed three walks and a hit by pitch in the circle for Kansas (3-0), only recording two outs before head coach Megan Smith brought in freshman Mandy Roberts to clean up the damage.
“We stayed calm after falling behind early and we were confident in what we were doing,” Smith said. “You can’t press in those situations, so if a team goes up on you, you just have to keep your same mindset and stay calm, and still have quality at bats and not get too stressed out about it. I thought we did a good job of that, just trusting our defense and Mandy in the circle and just knowing that we can chip away. I felt like we kind of pieced some things together early to get that little lead, and once a few people got some big hits we just caught fire.”
The Jayhawks took advantage of Savannah State (0-4) defensive miscues in the first and second innings, scoring on an error and a wild pitch, respectively.
Roberts, who struck out the only batter she faced in the first to get out of a bases-loaded jam, faced just seven batters in the second and third innings combined, striking out three batters in the two innings and allowing just one walk and no hits.
Registering just one hit in the first two innings, the Kansas bats came alive in the third, with Roane launching her first home run of the game. With two runners on after an error and a double to right center from freshman Courtney Taylor, freshman Becki Monaghan collected two RBIs with a double to right center to make the score 5-1.
With Monaghan on second, senior left fielder Lily Behrmann followed the Canadian’s efforts with a two out double to left center for an RBI to increase KU’s lead to five.
Roberts stayed efficient in the circle and struck out two Tigers in the fourth and induced a lineout to left to allow the Kansas bats to get back to work.
“I thought Mandy came in and did a really good job,” Smith said. “We started off a little shaky, but she came in and took control, and she was really confident in what she was doing. We kept them off balance, she did a really good job.”
Junior Harli Ridling drove in a run with a double to left center to start the scoring off in the bottom of the fourth, before Roane blasted her second homer of the game. Smith called on multiple pinch hitters in the inning, including freshman Brittani Reid, who hit her first-career home run to drive in three more Jayhawk runs. With the score standing at 12-1 in favor of Kansas, Roane stepped into the box for the second time in the inning, this time with the bases loaded.
With a 2-0 count, the Rio Rancho, New Mexico product hit a grand slam to left field, capping a 10-run inning for Kansas.
“Jessie was phenomenal,” Smith said. “She has been on fire all weekend. She is an upper classman who has had success before, and we are looking for her to be one of the leaders of the offense and she showed that today, so really excited about her game.”
Smith called on senior Sophia Templin to close out the game in the fifth, and the De Soto, Kansas native did just that, facing five batters but preventing Savannah State from scoring any runs and the Jayhawks stayed perfect on the early 2017 season with the 16-1 win.
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