Scoring a few runs hasn’t been much of an issue for Kansas University’s softball team this year.
The Jayhawks, who have been hitting at a record pace, needed just a few more runs on Wednesday. KU fell, 3-2 and 6-5, to the No. 13 Tigers in a doubleheader at Arrocha Ballpark.
“They fought,” coach Megan Smith said. “They never gave up, and we proved that we belong. We proved that we can compete with these types of teams. I’m just really proud of their effort.”
KU (26-5, 0-2 Big 12) fell behind, 2-0, in game one after back-to-back homers by Megan Christopher and Abby Vock in the third inning. MU later tacked on a run in the fifth on a single and three walks by Allie Clark.
Meanwhile, MU (24-3, 2-0) ace Chelsea Thomas was cruising from the circle.
Thomas, who improved to 10-2, struck out seven Jayhawks the first time through the order and was perfect through four innings.
All it took for KU’s potent offense to get rolling, though, was one fortuitous bounce.
With two outs in the fifth, Maggie Hull slapped a high bouncer over the third-base bag for KU’s first hit. After an MU error, Marissa Ingle singled her home.
Laura Vickers was called upon to pinch hit and smashed a single back through the box to plate Ingle and bring KU within 3-2.
“A lot of times offensively, as a team, as soon as somebody gets a hit, it kind of sparks a chain reaction,” junior outfielder Liz Kocon said. “Once we see that we can hit a pitcher, it just kind of rolls from there.”
Clark kept KU within striking distance, retiring six straight batters to close out her fifth complete game of the season.
Mariah Montgomery led off the seventh with a single and was lifted for pinch runner Julie Jenkins, who reached second base with two outs, but the Jayhawks couldn’t bring her around to complete the comeback.
The Jayhawks again fell behind 2-0 in game two, this time in the first inning. Unlike in the previous game, KU had an immediate answer, as Hull cleared the bases with a triple for a 3-2 edge.
But Kristin Martinez, who entered the game with a 12-1 record, couldn’t hold Missouri, relenting two more runs in the third.
The Jayhawk offense again had an answer, this time on back-to-back home runs by Montgomery and Kocon in the fifth to regain the lead at 5-4.
After an error opened the door for the Tigers in the sixth, Clark surrendered a two-run homer that put MU on top again, 6-5, and the Jayhawks went without a peep in the sixth and seventh.
“I’m always critical of what I’m doing,” Clark said. “I think I could have done better but me and (Martinez) both, we are always going to have stuff to work on.”
Missouri stopped KU’s 11-game winning streak.
KU will travel to Austin, Texas, Friday for a two-game series against the Longhorns.