Kansas Wins Walk-Off Style, Defeats Oklahoma State in Extras, 1-0
March 23, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Freshman third baseman Chanin Naudin picked the right moment to connect on her first career home run, when she drilled a solo shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth to hand the Kansas softball team a 1-0 walk-off victory over Oklahoma State.
The predicted storms stayed away, allowing Kansas (21-5, 1-3) to save its most dramatic performance of the season for opening day at Arrocha Ballpark. The crowd of 675 was on hand to watch the Jayhawks' first victory over the 2011 Women's College World Series team since April 27, 2008.
KU, who played 10 of its 12 home games last season against nationally-ranked opponents, notched its first home win since the 2010 campaign. On the heels of a walk-off home run and freshman Alicia Pille's (10-3) seventh shutout of the season, the Jayhawks' first extra-inning game of 2012 ended with every Jayhawk on the plate to greet Naudin in the bottom of the eighth.
"We told the girls after the game that this is as proud as we've been of them," head coach Megan Smith said. "To have gone through the weekend we did last weekend and then put together what we did today against a team that was in the College World Series last year, we couldn't be prouder of them. It was a full team effort, with a stellar pitching performance and Chanin Naudin stepping up big time. You can't script it better than that."
One run was all Pille needed as the rookie threw a gem in the circle. The Royse City, Texas native threw eight scoreless innings, striking out 11 and surrendering only two hits. Pille did not allow a walk until the eighth inning. Her seven shutouts mark the fourth-most all-time for a Kansas freshman and the most recorded by a Jayhawk pitcher since the 2006 season (Kassie Humphreys, 10).
Oklahoma State (15-11, 0-1) received an excellent outing from starter Kat Espinosa (8-5), as well. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on March 13 struck out four and walked one during her complete-game effort. She took the loss after giving up the walk-off to Naudin. Left fielder Tamara Brown and shortstop Chelsea Garcia were the only Cowgirls to record a hit on Friday.
Pille worked quickly through the first four innings, collecting five strikeouts while carrying a no-hitter into the fifth. Her defense stayed right behind her in the top of the second, when Ashley Newman made a diving stop at second base. Marissa Ingle scooped the ball at first to help Pille retire the first 12 batters she faced.
Meanwhile, Espinosa countered Pille well. She gave up a single to Bryant in the bottom of the second, but kept her own shutout intact to set the tone for the pitcher's duel to come.
Aside from collecting the first hit of the game, Bryant negated the Cowgirls' first base knock of the evening. Pille kept her no-hitter alive until Garcia's single in the top of the fifth broke it up. Bryant wasted no time taking her off the base paths, throwing her out trying to steal second. That marked number seven on the season, tying her for the Big 12 lead.
Both teams brought drama in the final inning of regulation play. Brown came into the series leading the Oklahoma State lineup with a .366 batting average. After keeping her bat silent all game, Brown broke out a two-out double, yet Pille didn't waiver. The rookie struck out the three other batters she faced in the inning to keep the shutout rolling.
Looking to rally in the bottom of the seventh, Kocon drilled a single up the middle with one out. Smith replaced Kocon on the first with speedy freshman Cassen Salamone in an attempt to get the winning run across, but a strikeout and flyout by Espinosa stopped the rally and sent the game to extras.
Pille surrendered her only walk of the game to leadoff the OSU eighth, but racked up two more strikeouts to send her lineup to the plate for the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Naudin delievered. She cranked a line drive over the corner of the field wall for the thrilling 1-0 win.