LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas softball team went 2-0 on the final day of the KU Fall Invitational after defeating Cowley, 9-1, and Butler, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark. The Jayhawks were 3-0 on the weekend.
Exciting defensive plays and stellar pitching performances highlighted the last day of the annual fall tournament. Seniors Alex Jones and Ashley Newman made huge diving catches and freshman Taylor McElhaney followed suit making a great diving play in right field. In the circle, the Jayhawks combined for 20 strikeouts and allowed only one run in three games.
“Pitching and defense are incredible right now,” said head coach Megan Smith. “Our pitching is really strong and defensively we’ve made some really good plays. We made every routine play and made some unbelievable plays too. We have a lot of dynamic players on defense, who are really athletic and it’s good to see.”
Offensively, KU recorded 12 hits against Cowley. Jones went 3-for-3 with a RBI, while sophomore Chaley Brickey finished the first game 2-for-2 with two RBI and walk.
“The offense did well in the first game,” Smith Said. “We took advantage of some opportunities and had some clutch hits. The second game was a little slow going, but I see a lot of potential. We just need to get to work on a few things in fall practice.”
Junior Alicia Pille struck out eight and sat 12 batters down in order in the first game of the doubleheader. She tossed four scoreless innings in KU’s 9-1 win over the Tigers.
The Jayhawks scored quickly in the first inning to take an early lead. Brickey hit a double to right center bringing home two runs. Junior Chanin Naudin drove in the third run of the inning with a single to through the left side.
KU added three more runs in the third inning. Brickey drove in another run with her second double of the game. Freshman Taylor Dodson increased Kansas’ lead to 6-0 with a two-run home run over the left field fence.
In the fourth inning, the Jayhawks scored three more runs extending their lead to 9-0 over Cowley. Jones, McElhaney and Maddie Stein drove in the final runs of the game for Kansas.
The Tigers’ Caitlyn Cosme singled in the fifth inning plating a run, the only one against KU over the weekend. Beth Wilson and the Jayhawks retired the final two batters to win 9-1.
Sophomore Kelsey Kessler entered the circle against Butler Community College. She struck out 12 and limited the Grizzlies to three hits. Kessler struck out the side in the top of the eighth.
Freshman Lily Behrmann was 3-for-3 against Butler and scored the game-winning run in extra innings.
After seven scoreless innings, Kansas’ offense went to work in the eighth. Behrmann started the inning with a double, her second of the game. Newman moved Behrmann to third base with a single to to the Grizzlies shortstop.
McElhaney laid down a bunt and reached first base safely after the ball hit her back and rolled away from the Grizzlies’ first baseman. Behrmann took off for home sliding in under the tag to score as KU won 1-0.
“We look great, but still have a long way to go,” said Jones, a fifth-year senior. “We saw really great things this weekend, especially from our freshmen. Even with first game jitters they stepped up in some situations. I am glad we came out with three wins. We learned some things this weekend to take to practice this week and work on for the next game.”
The Jayhawks continue fall action by hosting Baker University on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.