LINCOLN, Neb. – After a long weather delay and extra innings, junior infielder Jessie Roane delivered the game-winning hit in the eighth to give Kansas the 5-3 victory over Nebraska on Wednesday night at Bowlin Stadium.
The Jayhawks’ (22-22, 3-9 Big 12) win over the Cornhuskers (19-23, 9-5 Big Ten) gave KU its second extra-inning victory of the season and improved to 2-3 on the year in extended games. Both squads put runs on the scoreboard early, but then the pitchers entered a duel each hurling zero after zero.
“We got hit with the rain delay, but our team stay loose and when it was time to warm up we were focused,” said head coach Megan Smith. “It’s hard to keep your focus during that, but our team did a good job of handling the adversity.”
It wasn’t until the eighth inning that Kansas was finally able to capitalize on runners in scoring position. With two runners on, Roane hit a stand up double that gave Kansas the advantage late in the game. Once Roane gave KU the lead, it was up to sophomore righty Alexis Reid to finish the game in the circle. Reid threw a quick 1-2-3 inning to retire the side and earn her 14th victory in the circle.
“Tonight we saw two equally matched team,” said Smith. “We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game and a dog fight. We both came out punching early and then settled in. I thought Alexis did a really good job after those first couple innings to keep them off balance and our defense made some really good plays behind her.”
After a one hour and 25 minute lightning delay that began three pitches into the game, senior Lily Behrmann draws a leadoff walk, her 105th career base on balls. Behrmann is just the fourth Jayhawk to record over 100 walks in their career. Behrmann drew four walks in the game, tying her career-high mark.
“Lily Behrmann had a great game and five great at-bats,” Smith said. “As a leadoff hitter, that’s what you are hoping she can do for you and she certainly did a good job today.”
Following the leadoff walk, the Jayhawks hit back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs in the top of the first. Junior catcher Harli Ridling drove in the go ahead run with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. After taking a 1-0 lead, Kansas has scored first in 21 of its 44 games this season. KU is 14-7 in 2017 when scoring first.
Sophomore Brittani Reid opened the second frame with a stand up double to gap in right centerfield. Senior infielder Taylor McElhaney added to KU’s lead, 2-0, with a RBI single to right field. In the bottom half of the second, the Huskers tied the ballgame, 2-2, with a double off the wall in left field.
With two outs in the third, McElhaney singled, her second hit of the game, to right field, which brought senior infielder Taylor Dodson home. Dodson slid under the tag at home plate, as KU regained the lead, 3-2. Once again, Nebraska evened the score, 3-3, after junior catcher Austen Urness hit a solo home run to right field.
In the top of the sixth, Behrmann recorded her third walk of the ballgame and advanced in scoring position on a ground out. Nebraska ended the threat and stranded Behrmann at second base as the top of the frame came to a close with the score still tied three runs apiece.
After opening the game with a shutout frame, Reid gave up three runs before put zeros on the scoreboard for the next six innings. She improved to 14-15 on the season in the circle with her 18th complete game. She struck out one, while limiting the Huskers to three walks and three earned runs.
In the top of the seventh, freshman infielder Becki Monaghan doubled to left center to start the frame. Junior Annie Mehringer came to pinch run and represented the go ahead run in scoring position. A ground out moved Mehringer 60 feet from home, but she was stranded at third base with the score still tied.
The Huskers threatened in the home half of the seventh after loading the bases. Despite a Nebraska runner on each base, Reid took care of business and got out of the jam unscathed as the ballgame headed into extra innings.
Behrmann led off the final inning with her fourth walk in five at-bats. Following the walk to start the inning, junior outfielder Erin McGinley doubled to left on a misjudged fly ball, giving Kansas a pair of runners in scoring position. Roane drove in both runners with KU’s second double in a row, as the Jayhawks to a 5-3 lead.
“Jessie and Taylor McElhaney were clutch today and both came through with some RBIs today,” Smith said. “What led up to Jessie were good at-bats by Lily and Erin, which makes a big difference in the aggressiveness on the bases. Jessie came up big time for us in the last inning.”
After Roane gave Kansas the lead, Reid tossed her sixth shutout frame to seal the KU victory, 5-3, in eight innings.