Through three innings, the Kansas softball team didn’t resemble a team on a three-game losing streak as it went blow-for-blow with No. 8 Oklahoma. The Jayhawks answered each Sooner run, at least until they unleashed a barrage in the fourth inning.
Kansas suffered its fourth consecutive loss, 16-7 Friday night at Arrocha Ballpark, thanks in large part to a nine-hit and 11-run fourth inning by Oklahoma.
“We’re facing a really tough opponent and a great offense, and they know that coming in,” KU coach Megan Smith said. “I think they (pitchers) just need to focus on getting better, throwing better pitches, being more competitive in the adverse situations.”
Sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid held the Sooners in check through three innings, giving up just four runs in that time. But the Sooners proved to be too much in the fourth, as they scored four runs against her, led by a three-run home run by Oklahoma freshman Alissa Dalton to put Kansas (21-21, 3-8 Big 12) in an 8-4 hole.
The Jayhawks called upon senior pitcher Sophia Templin in relief, but the Sooners (37-7, 8-0 Big 12), who hit six home runs in the contest, continued to flex their muscles. They drilled back-to-back shots over the outfield wall to take a commanding 11-4 lead, and scored four more runs before the Jayhawks were able to record the third out.
Even with the lopsided score, Smith was pleased the Jayhawks were able to make offensive adjustments from Thursday, when they scored only one run.
“We were fouling off early yesterday,” Smith said. “Today I felt like we were making better contact. I also think we trusted our zone better today. We were swinging at some balls yesterday that we shouldn’t have been swinging at.”
Junior catcher Harli Ridling led the charge for the Kansas offense, going 2-for-3 with a team-best four RBIs and two home runs. Ridling hit a solo home run in the third inning to tie the game at 4, as well as a three-run shot in the fourth inning to give the Jayhawks some life after the Sooners’ 11-run inning.
“She had a tough day yesterday, but came out today with a different mindset,” Smith said. “She was still confident at the plate, and still super aggressive and attacking. If you watched her at-bats, she was attacking and fouling off pitches.”
Junior outfielder Erin McGinley also had a productive day at the plate, which included a two-RBI single to tie the game at 3 in the second inning. But McGinley and Ridling alone couldn’t keep up with the high-octane Oklahoma offense.
Oklahoma 301 (11)1 — 16 14 1
Kansas 031 30 — 7 9 1
W — Paige Parker (15-5). L — Alexis Reid (13-14)
2B — Alissa Dalton, Fale Aviu, Nicole Mendes, OU; Erin McGinley, KU. HR — Alissa Dalton, Caleigh Clifton, Shay Knighten, Sydney Romero, Fale Aviu, Nicole Mendes, OU; Harli Ridling, KU.
KU highlights — Harli Ridling 2-for-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs; Erin McGinley 3-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 run; Lily Behrmann 1-for-3, 1 RBI.