Kansas Freshmen Shine as Jayhawks Outhit No. 7 Oklahoma in 6-2 Loss
April 1, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. - Led by freshman Chanin Naudin's three-hit performance, the Kansas softball team outhit the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday, but was unable to string them together and fell in the series finale, 6-2.
Kansas (23-10, 2-7) did what no other team this season has done against Oklahoma's All-American pitcher Keliani Ricketts (17-4). The nine Jayhawk hits mark the most Ricketts has surrendered in a game this season, while the two runs allowed were the first she's surrendered in Big 12 play in 2012. Each served as a loud response to Ricketts' perfect game in the series opener.
"Today was a positive," head coach Megan Smith said. "Our first two games were tough against a really good Oklahoma team, so today we just wanted to come out here and compete. That's what we did. Our hitters made their adjustments at the plate and produced. It's hard to be happy with a loss but we are excited about our young hitters."
On Sunday it was the Jayhawk freshmen that set the tone for the offense, collecting six of KU's nine hits. Naudin posted the second 3-for-3 day of her career, which included both of KU's RBIs with a two-out double in the second. Fellow rookie Maddie Stein also contributed a multi-hit effort, going 2-for-3 during her first start of the weekend, while freshman catcher Lexi Bryant came just inches shy of a home run but settled for a double off the left field wall.
"Our freshmen really stepped up big for us today," Smith said. "We had a rough two games to start the series, so we wanted to get out here today and get back to doing what we do best - that's battling. Chanin Naudin and Maddie Stein were great at the plate and Lexi Bryant looked good, too. Alicia Pille was big for us in the circle, so I'm happy with they way they stepped up."
Just as Kansas did, No. 7 Oklahoma (30-4, 6-1) did all of its scoring in the second inning. Freshman first baseman Lauren Chamberlain highlighted the home team's offense once again, hitting her Big 12-best 17th home run of the year to cap off the six-run frame. Third baseman Javen Henson was the only Sooner to collect more than one hit in the finale.
All three Jayhawk starters again saw time in the circle. Sophomore Kristin Martinez (5-2) made her second start in her last eight appearances. She kept the Sooners quiet in the first but was charged with five runs during their big inning before junior Morgan Druhan took over. Both Martinez and Druhan threw 1.2 innings, but Druhan gave up just one run on three hits.
Alicia Pille made it a big day for the Jayhawk freshmen in the circle, as well. The rookie threw 2.2 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit, while striking out three. With the bases loaded and only one out in the bottom of the fourth, Pille tossed a strikeout and a groundout that she fielded herself to keep the Sooners from extending their lead.
In her second start of the weekend for Oklahoma, Ricketts allowed a season-high nine hits, two runs and struck out six.
Kansas went right to work on assuring Ricketts' second start of the weekend looked nothing like the first. Junior left fielder Maggie Hull notched the first hit just two batters into the game before the Jayhawk offense took off in their next at bat.
Leading off the top of the second, redshirt senior Liz Kocon got the big inning rolling with a single before Bryant strode to the plate. The rookie rocketed a line drive toward the left- centerfield fence. It slammed against the top of the wall no more than three inches shy of clearing the fence and resulted in her team-leading eighth double of the year.
Sitting with runners on second and third and nobody down, Ricketts tried to quiet the Jayhawk rally as she collected two-straight outs. Naudin ignored the attempt and battled through a long at bat before finally settling on her pitch. The freshman third baseman drilled a double to left center, scoring Kocon and Bryant - Ricketts' first earned runs allowed in Big 12 play this season.
Armed with their first lead of the weekend, the Jayhawks headed to the bottom of the second ahead, 2-0.
Oklahoma's unrelenting offense came into its half of the second ready to reclaim the lead, however, and it did so with six runs. Although it would be the only inning in which they would score, the Sooners had the run support needed to seal the series sweep.