STILLWATER, Okla. – One swing from Alex Hugo tied the Kansas freshman home run record and handed her team control of the game as the Jayhawks overcame a 4-1 deficit to down Oklahoma State, 9-7, and tie the series Saturday inside Cowgirl Stadium.
A pair of two-run home runs saw Kansas (27-12, 4-4) fall behind 2-0 then 4-1 to Oklahoma State (25-21, 3-8), but KU’s stifled offense from the series opener was nowhere to be found in game two. Pounding out 13 hits to OSU’s seven, the Jayhawks scored a run in the third and the fourth before busting loose for a three-spot in the fifth and four more runs in the sixth.
“It was a great effort,” head coach Megan Smith said. “Our defense was great, (Alicia) Pille battled the entire game and the offense came through today, which is something we lacked yesterday. We’re very proud of them bouncing back today and proud of the whole effort.”
The Jayhawks needed each run of support as the Cowgirls used their third homer of the game to cut KU’s 9-4 lead to 9-7 before sophomore Alicia Pille (11-6) collected the final out of her 12th complete game of the year.
With her first strikeout of the day in the bottom of the first, Pille became the 10th Jayhawk in program history to record 300 or more career strikeouts. She finished the day with eight, bringing her total to 307. The sophomore right-hander scattered seven hits over seven innings. All seven runs OSU scored came via home run, but her offense had her back – and Hugo was the ring leader.
The Olathe, Kan., native tied her career-highs with three hits, four RBIs and two home runs. Each of her three hits increased in power as she singled in the top of the first, cut KU’s deficit to 2-1 with a solo shot in the third and crushed a three-run homer to center to give her team its first lead of the weekend. The pair of homers ties her with former Jayhawk Jessica Moppin for the most by a KU freshman (11).
“It would be a lot more impressive if I broke it, but there’s still time,” Hugo smiled. “It means lot, though, that’s pretty cool.”
Sophomore catcher Maddie Stein, senior first baseman Mariah Montgomery and junior second baseman Ashley Newman each racked up two hits, while Stein added two RBIs and Newman added one. Freshman shortstop Chaley Brickey and sophomore Cassen Salamone also drove in a run apiece in the well-balanced win.
For the Cowgirls, first baseman Tarah Ettinger, designated player Samantha Chrisman and third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson each homered to provide plenty of power from both dugouts in game two. Senior Kat Espinosa (14-14) took the loss in the circle as she surrendered both of Hugo’s home runs.
The first inning saw Pille sit the Cowgirls in order, extending her consecutive-out streak to 16-straight dating back to Friday night’s game before Chrisman led off the second with a double. Mikkelson’s two-run home run that immediately followed snapped Pille’s scoreless streak and Oklahoma State to a 2-0 lead.
The solo blast sparked KU’s offense to fight back. Hugo’s shot over the left field wall cut OSU’s lead in half, 2-1. Although the Cowgirls answered with yet another home run in the bottom of the third, Kansas clawed back in the fourth. Naudin and Brickey joined forces for a double and an RBI single, respectively, to again cut the Cowgirls’ lead in half, 4-2.
Kansas came out firing again in the fifth, this time to take the game over. Newman kicked off the frame with a sharp single to shortstop before redshirt junior centerfielder Alex Jones joined her after being tagged by a pitch. Salamone, who took over for Maggie Hull in left in the third inning, laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third for Hugo.
Hugo was happy to help. Her second bomb of the game was to dead centerfield and handed Kansas its first lead of the weekend, 5-4.
The Jayhawks kept the momentum rolling right through the sixth, welcoming reliever Simone Freeman to the game by batting around in the frame. After Freeman recorded the first out, five-straight Jayhawks reached, while RBIs from Newman, Salamone and two from Stein opened the game wide open, 9-4.
Freeman kept the Jayhawks off the board in the seventh to send Pille back out to finish the game. Although Ettinger’s three-run blast looked to rally the home team all the way back, Pille chalked up three strikeouts in the inning to seal the win, 9-7.
The series finale between Kansas and Oklahoma State is set for Sunday at noon.