Sophomore left-handed pitcher Kasey Hamilton recorded seven strikeouts in just three innings in Kansas’ 8-3 win over Baker University Wednesday night.
Hamilton did not enter the game until the top of the third inning, but made her presence known immediately after stepping into the circle.
The top of the third was short and sweet, as Hamilton struck out three Wildcats in a row.
She was able to keep the Kansas’ defense strong while she was in the game, but the offense struggled to get the bats moving against Baker.
Kansas softball coach Jennifer McFalls said Kansas’ lack of offense at certain points in the game could not even take away from Hamilton’s strikeout performance.
“I thought she did a nice job of coming back and certainly there were some really positive things,” McFalls said of Hamilton after the game.
Her strong performance gave Kansas’ offense the push it needed to take a 5-0 lead over Baker in the bottom of the third inning.
Hamilton returned to the circle in the top of the fourth inning to force a ground out and delivered two consecutive strikeouts. She managed to keep Baker scoreless for yet another inning and recorded her fifth strikeout of the evening.
The Jayhawks failed to put up runs in the fourth inning, keeping the score at 5-0 at the top of the fifth. Baker got its first base runner of the game after what should have been a strikeout turned into a dropped third strike, followed by a poor throw to first from sophomore catcher Lyric Moore.
“I don’t think we were very sharp as a team,” McFalls said. “I don’t think that we did the little things right tonight. We were sloppy on defense.”
Hamilton made up for it though, as she was the life and soul of Kansas’ defense all night. She then retired another batter and forced a ground out in the top of the fifth inning.
However, the Wildcats then scored their first run of the game off a single to right field. Just as Baker started to gain a little life, Hamilton ended the inning with another strikeout -- her seventh of the night.
The momentum quickly switched as soon as Hamilton left the field.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Katie Brooks relieved Hamilton from the circle in the top of the sixth inning to allow Baker two more runs and cut Kansas’ lead in half. The Jayhawks ended the inning up 5-3, which is the most runs they have allowed at home during the fall season.
“We’re just better than that and we didn’t think the game through very well tonight,” McFalls said. “Our freshmen are getting better, you know. This is a good challenge for them.”
With another scoreless inning for Kansas, Brooks returned to the field, trying to maintain Kansas 5-3 lead. She was able to keep the Wildcats off the scoreboard in the top of the seventh, giving the Jayhawks enough life to add three runs to the score shortly after.
Kansas defeated Baker 8-3 to remain undefeated at home during the fall season, which despite Baker’s late scoring run, is largely thanks to Hamilton’s lights out pitching.
Hamilton led Kansas softball with 59 strikeouts through 78.2 innings pitched during the 2021 season, according to Kansas Athletics. She broke Washburn Rural High School’s single-season record with 194 strikeouts in 2018 and recorded a total of 400 strikeouts during her high school career.
The Topeka, Kansas native is one of the leaders of the young Jayhawks pitching squad, which is made up of primarily underclassmen.
The Jayhawks are back in action against Butler Community College at Arrocha Ballpark on Oct. 14 at 6:00 p.m.