Jayhawks edge Red Raiders, 5-4
LUBBOCK, Texas – Kansas softball fended off a comeback rally late in the game to edge Texas Tech, 5-4, on Saturday afternoon inside Rocky Johnson Field.
The Jayhawks (21-17, 3-5 Big 12) scored all five runs in the third frame to take a commanding lead early on in the second meeting of the 2017 series, but the Red Raiders (16-20, 3-5 Big 12) scored four unanswered runs late in the game in attempt to pull off a come-from-behind rally. KU’s pitching duo halted the rally and gave Kansas the series win for the second year in a row.
“When you are on the road in the Big 12 it is difficult to win the series,” said head coach Megan Smith. “Really proud that we were able to fight it out and get two wins against a team that is equally matched to us. We’ve got to be on our A game tomorrow because they are a bunch of fighters and they are going to come out fighting.”
Freshman hurler Mandy Roberts entered the matchup in relief and earned her first career save after leaving TTU’s tying run on base in both the sixth and seventh innings. Roberts struck out three allowed one earned run in two and two-thirds innings of work.
“Mandy has good stuff and pitched well last weekend,” Smith said. “To come in in that critical of as situation and strikeout two is huge. It was a great win today in the circle for us with a freshman and a sophomore.”
Before Roberts took over in the circle, sophomore Alexis Reid tossed four and one-third innings and improved to 13-10 on the year with the victory. Reid struck out two batters while allowing three earned runs.
“Alexis did a great job of coming out and putting zeros on the scoreboard for as long as she did,” said Smith. “After they saw her yesterday, I was really proud of how she came out today.”
Kansas’s offense recorded three hits in the opening two innings and left three Jayhawks on base, including one in scoring position. The game remained scoreless until KU ended the scoreless streak with five runs in the third.
“We came out and attacked,” Smith said. “We strung together a lot of quality at-bats and put some runs up on the scoreboard. Even after we weren’t scoring runs, we were still having quality at-bats. It was a well-played and hard-fought game on both ends.”
For the third inning in a row, Kansas’ leadoff batter reached base after junior outfielder Erin McGinley recorded her second hit of the game, a single through the right side. Following the leadoff single, senior outfielder Lily Behrmann hit a bunt single and junior infielder Jessie Roane got hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice gave the Red Raiders an out, but the bases remained full of Jayhawks.
Freshman first baseman Becki Monaghan gave KU a 2-0 lead in the third frame with a two-RBI single to right field. Junior catcher Harli Ridling increased Kansas’ advantage after scoring on a wild pitch. Senior infielder Taylor McElhaney extended the third inning rally with a two-RBI single to right field. McElhaney’s base hit increased KU’s lead, 5-0, heading into the bottom half of the frame.
Following the big offensive inning, Reid quickly put her third zero on the scoreboard and put the offense right back to work. In her second start of the weekend, Reid scatter three hits in the first three innings of work.
After leaving the bases loaded with Jayhawks in the top of the fourth, Texas Tech put a run on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning. The Red Raiders added a second run in the frame, cutting KU’s lead, 5-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Red Raiders scored its third unanswered run to narrow their deficit. Following the solo home run, Roberts entered the circle in relief and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning without further damage by TTU.
Texas Tech made it’s a one-run ballgame after leading off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to left field. The second long ball of the day for the Red Raiders cut KU’s lead, 5-4. Following the solo shot, Roberts and the Jayhawks’ defense retired the side. Ridling ended the frame by throwing the runner out at second base.
KU threatened to add to its advantage in the top of the seventh inning, but Texas Tech ended the threat without harm. Despite the tying reaching first base in the bottom half of the inning, Roberts shutdown TTU’s offense as Kansas held on to the 5-4 victory.
Kansas concludes its three-game series at Texas Tech on Sunday, April 9, at 12 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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