Kansas Cruises Past North Carolina A&T, 17-0
March 1, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. – A career-high 11 strikeouts from freshman Kelsey Kessler and senior Maggie Hull’s second grand slam of the season powered Kansas to a dominant 17-0 win over North Carolina A&T in the first game of the Wolfpack Challenge, Friday afternoon at Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Softball Stadium.
Kansas (11-4) brought explosive bats to the first game of the weekend, defeating North Carolina A&T (1-4) in five innings for its seventh run-rule of the season. Their 17 runs were the most by the Jayhawks since a 17-7 win over Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 19, 2011.
Hull, who blasted her second grand slam of the season during a five-run fourth inning, moved into second place on the Kansas career RBI list with 118, passing former 2006 Big 12 Player of the Year Serena Settlemier. Hull finished the first game of the day 1-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBIs.
All but one of the Jayhawk starters recorded a hit in the contest, including three-hit performances from junior second baseman Ashley Newman and freshman designated player Alex Hugo, who belted her fifth homer of the season in the third inning. Newman drove in two runs, while Hugo collected three RBIs.
In the circle, Kessler (4-2) looked just as dominant, striking out 11 – a season-high for the Jayhawks – while walking two and surrendering just one hit to record her first career shutout.
Senior Ashira Dobison (0-1) took the loss for the Aggies and shortstop Alejandra Barcenas recorded the team’s only hit.
After a quiet first inning, Kansas broke the game open in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of costly defensive mishaps. Hugo and senior right fielder Rosie Hull got the inning rolling with consecutive one-out singles, but the Jayhawks amped it up with two outs. Freshman shortstop Chaley Brickey drew a walk to load the bases and bring Newman to the plate. She ripped a two-run single up the middle to put the Jayhawks on the board.
Taking advantage of their extra opportunities, redshirt junior centerfielder Alex Jones and Hull put the ball in play for back-to-back errors, letting three runs come home and taking the lopsided lead, 5-0.
Meanwhile, in the circle, Kessler was cruising. She struck out the side in the second and third to bring her within one of her career high just three innings in.
Her offense quickly returned to backing her up, posting a seven spot the bottom of the third. Senior first baseman Mariah Montgomery drilled the first pitch of the frame to centerfield for a leadoff double. She didn’t stay out there long as Hugo connected on her fifth homer of the year to strengthen KU’s lead, 7-0.
From there, Kansas poured it on as 10 of KU’s 12 batters in the inning reached base. Aside from Hugo’s opposite field bomb, Jones also racked up an RBI in the inning. In her second career at bat, freshman pinch hitter Kylee Kennedy did her best to recreate the magic from her first trip to the plate. Although it didn’t result in another home run, she did connect on a two-RBI single during the big inning.
In the following frame, Barcenas laced a groundball toward the hole at shortstop for NC A&T. Although Brickey raced over to get a glove on it, it marked the only hit of Kessler’s outing. She retired the next two batters to keep her shutout intact.
Armed with the commanding 12-0 lead, the Jayhawk offense showed no signs of slowing in its final trip to the plate. KU chalked up five more runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by Hull’s bases-loaded blast to send Kansas to the 17-0 win.
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