GREENVILLE, S.C. – Sophomore Alicia Pille threw her fifth shutout of the year to hand Kansas a 4-0 win in the first game of the day against Furman at Pepsi Softball Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Kansas (25-10, 3-3) extended its winning streak to four games, while the shutout against Furman (21-18, 7-7) pushed the KU pitching staff’s streak to 22-consecutive innings dating back to the sixth inning of game one at Texas Tech.
After a late scratch from the lineup, Pille (9-6) made the last-second start in the circle and was brilliant. She tossed her 13th career shutout, scattering three hits over seven innings while striking out eight.
Freshman catcher Alex Hugo provided the offensive spark the Jayhawks needed with a leadoff double in the top of the sixth and broke up the shutout when senior right fielder Rosie Hull drove her in for the first run of the game. Hugo finished the series opener 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Hull went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Junior second baseman Ashley Newman and sophomore third baseman Chanin Naudin each chipped in two-hit performances, while Newman posted an RBI. For the first time since March 1, senior left fielder Maggie Hull did not record a hit as her Big 12-leading 20-game hit streak came to a close in the series opener.
Pille sat the Paladins in order in the bottom of the first. Although a single, stolen base and a tag on a fly ball moved sophomore second baseman Taylor Jenkins to third in the bottom of the second, Pille ended the inning with a strikeout – marking the 31st time this season KU has stranded a runner on third.
Through singles, errors and walks, the Jayhawks found ways to put runners on base in four of the first five innings, but starter Meaghan Houston (7-6) kept KU off the board. Opposite her, Pille and her defense kept the Paladins from breaking the scoring drought, as well.
In the bottom of the fifth, a two-out single brought Furman leadoff hitter Sieara Bishop to the plate. Pille and Bishop battled through 15 pitches before the Jayhawk starter ended the duel with a strikeout to send Kansas back to the plate.
And with that, her offense kicked into gear. Hugo led off the top of the sixth with a double off the right field fence. Rosie Hull made sure she didn’t stay long, roping a single to right center to bring home Hugo and breakup the shutout. The Jayhawks didn’t stop at one run as Newman’s flawless bunt single down the first base line scored Hull.
For the third time in four at bats, redshirt junior centerfielder Alex Jones’ slap grounder was ruled an error, but her speed made it count. The errant throw from the pitcher allowed two more runs to come home and in one inning the Jayhawks took a sizable 4-0 lead.
With a comfortable lead in tow, Pille racked up two more strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the 4-0 win.
Kansas and Furman will square off in game two of the series at approximately 2:30 p.m. CT.