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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kansas softball swept by OU in three-game series

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Moments after home plate umpire Craig Elmore signaled Oklahoma sophomore Caleigh Clifton was safe at home plate, Kansas softball coach Megan Smith stormed out of the dugout to plead her case.

Smith felt Kansas junior catcher Harli Ridling tagged Clifton before she reached home, which would have ended the inning. Instead, Elmore called the runner safe, and Oklahoma scored another run on its next at-bat to take an early lead.

Kansas was never able to overcome the early deficit, and fell to No. 8 Oklahoma, 6-2, on Saturday at Arrocha Ballpark, clinching a series sweep for the Sooners.

Smith said she almost never argues with umpires because “they’re human and they have a tough job,” but she thought it was important to stand up for her team.

“I don’t argue unless I’m for certain and unless it is a critical mistake,” Smith said. “That was a critical play, and I felt like he got it wrong. I don’t know if he did or not, but that’s how I felt.”

After giving up two early runs on five hits, four of which were infield singles, KU sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid retired nine straight Oklahoma batters.

“I was really proud of Alexis, to see them three days in a row and be able to fight through,” Smith said. “She kept the ball really low, and mixed her off-speed in there.”

However, the Jayhawks (21-22, 3-9 Big 12) were unable to solve the Sooners’ junior pitcher, Paige Lowary, who allowed just two runs on three hits.

“She’s an All-American-caliber pitcher,” Smith said of Lowary. “She throws hard, she moves the ball really well and she had a good off-speed today.”

Meanwhile, the Sooners (38-7, 9-0) started to hone in on Reid, and scored one run in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a 5-0 lead.

The Jayhawks eventually broke through in the sixth when junior infielder Jessie Roane nailed a double down the right field line to score two runners.

But the Sooners added an insurance run in the seventh inning, and Lowary retired the side in the seventh to put the Jayhawks away.

“We got the runners on and we did something with it, so that’s a positive,” Smith said. “We didn’t get as many on as we hoped or wanted. But like I said, against a tough pitcher it’s hard to do that.”

Kansas will travel to Nebraska at 6 p.m. Wednesday before playing host to Nevada next weekend for a three-game series.

“If we can bring the fight we had this weekend to the rest of this week,” Smith said, ”we’re going to win a lot of games this week.”

Oklahoma 200 012 1 — 6 10 1

Kansas 000 002 0 — 2 3 0

W — Paige Lowary (10-1). L — Alexis Reid (13-15).

2B — Alissa Dalton, Caleigh Clifton, OU; Jessie Roane, KU; 3B — Nicole Pendley, OU.

KU Highlights: Jessie Roane 2-for-3, 2 RBI, Erin McGinley 1-for-3, run.

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