Zip, Zilch, Zero: Formby No-Hits Billikens
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just 24 hours after ending her nearly 29 scoreless inning streak, sophomore right-hander Andie Formby bounced back in historic fashion, as Kansas shut out Saint Louis, 9-0, in six innings on Sunday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park.
Formby went the distance throwing her fifth complete-game shutout of the season, and third in her last five outings. Even more impressive, Formby finished the game without surrendering a hit, becoming the 26th Jayhawk to register a no-hitter in Kansas softball history.
“Yesterday was a little bit of a rough start for Andie, but we still have a lot of confidence in her so we gave her the ball again today,” said head coach Megan Smith. “I am sure glad we did. She had an unbelievable game. She was poised, confident and was going right at their hitters. Her pitches were moving really well and she did a great job of keeping them off balance. She certainly wowed everyone with her diving catch, which was the highlight of the game for me to save the no-hitter.”
The Orange, California native struck out four and faced only 20 batters in a shortened game. Not only did Kansas’ defense back up Formby, but the offense also gave the sophomore pitcher run support to work with the help of three home runs, highlighted by senior infielder Kylee Kennedy’s first long ball of the season and since her freshman campaign. KU’s offense tallied eight hits to Saint Louis’ zero.
“It was cool to start some momentum for the team,” Kennedy said of her home run. “I love being a goof ball and being the spark, whether its a hit or not. It was fun to see everyone rally around one thing. It was kind of cool that it was my home run too. I haven’t gotten a ton of opportunities, but its important to go up there with the mindset of I have nothing to lose and I am going to do the best I can.”
Senior Kylee Kennedy launched one of
KU’s three home runs against Saint Louis.
Formby opened her 12th start of the season and second of the weekend with a 1-2-3 inning. She worked around a walk in the second frame and sat the next six batters down in order. Through the first four innings, Formby tossed three 1-2-3 innings and her only blemish was the lone walk in the second frame.
“Minnesota is a really good team, so I just shook it off,” Formby said. “Monique came in yesterday for me and she did really well. I was happy for her. I came out today and focused on getting outs. It’s easier to get the outs with the defense behind me, I couldn’t ask for a better defense.”
In the bottom of the third, Kansas (17-10) threatened to take the lead with two runners in scoring position, but Saint Louis halted the midgame rally and stranded the pair of Jayhawks. After three innings, the ballgame remained tied, 0-0. Junior second baseman Taylor McElhaney hit a perfectly placed bunt in front of home plate for the first hit of the game, which also gave KU its second base runner of the third frame. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over before the Billikens retired the side.
Kennedy delivered a three-run lead for Kansas with her first home run of the season. Kennedy’s long ball to centerfield was the second of her career. The Topeka, Kansas product became the 10th Jayhawk to record a home run in 2016.
“Kylee has been having really good practices and had some good at-bats this season,” said Smith. “We felt like we needed to add another bat to the lineup with some potential for power. Coach Hubbard said Kylee would be great for this game and we put her in there. I am glad he said that because she certainly had a great at-bat and came through big time. We were having a bit of trouble with that pitcher and for her to come in and get that clutch three-run home run was huge for our entire team.”
Saint Louis saw its second base runner of the game after an uncharacteristic fielding error by Kansas’ infield. Formby ended the threat by diving towards home plate to snag the ball after it was popped towards the circle. Formby’s web gem of a fielding play retired the top of the fifth, continuing her hitless streak.
“I had no idea about the no-hitter, I try not to pay attention to those things during the game,” said Formby. “I was surprised Harli didn’t dive and I was scared she was going to dive into me, but I just saw it off the bat and went for it.”
In the bottom half of the fifth frame, the Jayhawks added four runs to increase their lead, 7-0, over the Billikens. Senior shortstop Chaley Brickey jump started the fifth inning rally with a RBI double off the wall in right centerfield. With two runners still on base, redshirt sophomore catcher Harli Ridling hit her sixth home run of the season, plating the final three runs before Saint Louis could retire the side.
Still rolling, Formby sat the Billikens’ batters down in order in the top of the sixth. She threw four 1-2-3 innings as she improved to 9-2 in the circle. In the last 34 and two-thirds innings of work, Formby has limited the opposition to just four runs. After today’s complete-game shutout, Formby dropped her ERA to 1.76 on the year.
Kansas’s offense headed to the batter’s box with a comfortable seven-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore outfielder Erin McGinley launched the third home run of the game, giving the Jayhawks a 9-0 walk-off victory over Saint Louis. After a 2-for-4 effort at the plate, Erin McGinley was one of two Jayhawks to record a multi-hit performance. Shannon McGinley registered the second with a 2-for-3 effort.
“Erin is on it offensively, so is Shannon,” Smith said. “Both of them have done a really good job. Any time either of them are up at the plate, I fee like they are going to do something good. They don’t disappoint. Erin came through with the big hit at the end and both of the McGinleys have confidence, so it’s fun to see them at the top of the lineup working so well together.”
The McGinley sisters have tallied a combined 15 multi-hit performances in 2016. Erin McGinley is batting .397 on the season, while Shannon McGinley is hitting .385.
Kansas continues its five-game homestand on Tuesday, March 22, with a doubleheader against Evansville. First pitch is slated for 11 a.m., on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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