Sykes' walk-off home run lifts Kansas, 6-5

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Freshman infielder Madison Sykes late-game heroics lifted Kansas past Southeast Missouri State, 6-5, on Sunday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park.
Sykes, a Blue Springs, Missouri native, completed the Jayhawks’ (17-11) come-from-behind rally with a walk-off three-run home run to dead centerfield. Sykes’ second career long ball capped off a six-run rally in the finally three innings of the game. KU outhit the Redhawks, 13-10, with Sykes, senior Lily Behrmann and junior Jessie Roane each recording two hits.
The Redhawks applied pressure on Kansas’ starter Sarah Miller from the first pitch and immediately went to work in the batter’s box. Southeast Missouri State loaded the bases with two outs, but Miller recorded back-to-back strikeouts to retire the side without harm.
 Freshman Madison Sykes
Roane hit a double to right field for the first hit of the ballgame, but the third baseman was stranded in scoring position as the first inning came to a close.
Miller dove into foul territory on the third base line and made the diving catch for the first out of the second. Sophomore infielder Sarah Messex drove in the go ahead run for Southeast Missouri State with two outs with a double down the left field line. The Redhawks extended its lead, 2-0, with another RBI double before KU could retire the side.
In the bottom of the second, Sykes and freshman infielder Becki Monaghan strung together a pair of base hits, but for the second inning in a row, Kansas stranded a runner in scoring position as the frame came to an end. Kansas loaded the bases in the third frame, but the Redhawks were able to end the threat unscathed once again. Through the first three innings of the game, KU stranded six runners, including four in scoring position.
Southeast Missouri State loaded the bases in the fifth inning and increased its lead, 4-0, after recording a pair of RBI singles. With just one out in the fifth, senior hurler Sophia Templin entered the circle in relief and induced to-straight pop ups to end the inning.
Ridling put Kansas on the scoreboard in the fifth inning with a RBI double to left centerfield. Ridling’s RBI cut Kansas’ deficit, 4-1, but the Redhawks ended the threat without further harm. 

In the sixth, Kansas scored two unearned run to make it a one-run ballgame. Behrmann bunted towards first base and beat the throw attempting to put her out. The throw sailed into foul territory down the right field line, allowing both KU runners on base to score.  Southeast Missouri State answered in the next half inning with a solo home run and headed to the bottom of the seven with a 5-3 lead. 

Kansas opened the bottom half of the final frame with back-to-back singles from Roane and junior catcher Harli Ridling. With two runners aboard, Sykes stepped into the batter’s and delivered her second home run of the season, as Kansas walked off with the 6-5 victory.
Templin improved to 1-0 on the year in the circle after recording the victory in her fifth relief outing of the season. She gave up one earned run and struck out one.

Kansas travels to SIU-Edwardsville for a midweek matchup on Wednesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. The game will air on the Jayhawk Radio Network.  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.