Despite Jayhawk bats staying hot, KU pitching's struggles in Lubbock allowed Texas Tech to take 2-of-3 from the Jayhawks this weekend. Here's how it went down.
Friday, April 10 - @ Texas Tech 8, #22 Kansas 7
The Jayhawks jumped out to leads of 4-0 and 6-2 but couldn't hang on Friday night in Lubbock. KU outhit the Raiders 13-9, including three home runs, but it wasn't enough as TTU managed to rally with the help of five walks and an error in addition to three home runs of their own. Kansas SP Alicia Pille (3.1 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) was fairly ineffective and was unable to hold onto the early lead provided by the Jayhawk bats. 1B Maddie Stein (3/3, 2 R, RBI, BB, HR) led KU offensively.
Saturday, April 11 - #22 Kansas 11, @ Texas Tech 9 (10 innings)
The Jayhawks took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh (and usually last) inning, but the Raiders rallied with four runs to tie the game at 6 and force extras. Neither team would score again until the 10th inning, when KU put up a five spot to take a commanding 11-6 lead. TTU would put together another rally, but fall just short. KU was led offensively by 3B Chanin Naudin (3/6, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR) and SS Chaley Brickey (2/2, R, RBI, 4 BB). SP Bryn Houlton (6.0+ IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, K) held the Raiders down through first six innings before being relieved in the seventh.
Sunday, April 12 - @ Texas Tech 5, #22 Kansas 4
In a reversal of the first two games of the series, this time TTU took the early lead, building a 5-0 advantage through the first five innings. The Jayhawks rallied for four in the top of the 7th, but couldn't bring the tying run home from third base (in a bases loaded, 1-out situation) and left Lubbock having dropped two of three games. The Jayhawks were led offensively by SS Chaley Brickey (3/4, R, 3 RBI, HR).
After the first game of the TTU series, head coach Megan Smith was quoted as saying, "We need to improve in all aspects of the game. We need to not give them any freebies, we had an error and some walks, so we need to make sure we limit those. We need to battle better in the circle and be tougher in the circle. Offensively, we have to have quality at-bats the entire game."
SP Alicia Pille has been struggling since the onset of Big 12 play, posting a combined stat line of 26.2 IP, 36 H, 30 R, 24 ER, 12 BB, 24 K, 9 HR. That's good for an ERA of 8.10. Kansas is only 4-5 in conference play so far, and will need the pitching staff, especially Pille, to recover the groove they had in non-conference play if they want to make noise in the post-season. The Jayhawks have yet to play either of the top two teams in the Big 12, and will definitely have their hands full when Oklahoma visits on April 24 and Baylor comes to town on May 1.
The Jayhawks will wrap up their eight-game road trip with two games at Tulsa on Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19. You can catch all KU softball games (home and away) on the Jayhawk Radio Network. The Jayhawks won't resume conference play until April 24, when the Oklahoma Sooners come to Lawrence.