Kansas softball had an up and down series at the University of Central Florida Invitational this weekend, finishing 1-2, falling against UCF and South Dakota, while edging out Chattanooga. Two of the games, against LIU Brooklyn and Fordham University were canceled due to weather.
In the season opener against UCF, sophomore Kelsey Kessler had seven strikeouts, walking two and allowed just one hit.
UCF allowed Kansas two hits. The first base hit of the season for Kansas was by senior Alex Jones. The other Jayhawk connecting was junior Maddie Stein.
In the second match of the day, against South Dakota, the Jayhawks fell to South Dakota, 5-1. Pitchers during the game were junior Alicia Pille and Jones. Pille recorded the loss, allowing two hits and three earned runs over the three innings. While she struck out five, she also walked three. Jones allowed one hit and two runs, while committing two errors.
On the offensive side, the Jayhawks recorded eight hits. Sophomore Chaley Brickey, senior Taylor Hatfield and Jones all connected twice. Senior Ashley Newman and freshman Harli Ridling rounded out the other two with one hit apiece.
Not helping the cause was the fact that 12 Kansas runners were stranded on base during the game.
“What we were missing was clutch hits,” said coach Megan Smith.
Both games the next day were rained out due to a storm cell forming over the softball complex.
A win against Chattanooga rounded out the Invitational. Kessler was on the mound, recording the win.
“Kelsey was dominant,” said Smith. “She was dominant Friday too, but we just couldn't scrape together a run for her. We played as a team [today] and it was good to get out of here with a win.”
“[Kelsey] moved the ball really, really well, and her rise ball was looking really good. She was really posed and confident. You could tell she got more confident as the game went on,” said Smith.
Kessler recorded a career-best 15 strikeouts. She allowed four hits, zero walks and zero runs.
Five different Jayhawks recorded hits including Jones, Newman, Brickey, Stein and Hatfield. Stein had two hits on the day, with the rest of the squad having one each.
The win against Chattanooga gives the team momentum as they prepare for their next tournament starting Friday, Feb.14.