It was a tale of two games at Red and Charline McCombs Field on Saturday as Texas and Kansas got their Big 12 series underway.
The Longhorns took the first game of the doubleheader 3-1, but the Jayhawks came back in a big way to earn a run-rule 9-1 victory in game two. The rubber match will be played at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
“It’s tough, but you just want to have them keep fighting,” head coach Connie Clark said. “It’s on our turf, so we have to come back out and finish strong.”
Junior third baseman Celina Felix recorded her 50th hit of the season with a RBI single up the middle in the first. Left fielder Reagan Hathaway, a freshman from Lenexa, Kansas, built the lead with a sacrifice fly.
The Jayhawks cut the lead in half in the fourth. Kansas’ sophomore third baseman Jessie Roane sent a bloop single to shallow right field and a Jayhawk crossed the plate on a throwing error from senior right fielder Holly Kern.
Texas built its lead back up in the fifth behind the bat of Hathaway again. Sophomore Paige von Sprecken, who was in the designated player role, reached on a two-out single, and Hathaway followed with a single of her own to add the insurance run.
“Things are just kind of falling when I make contact,” Hathaway said. “I’m in that groove where everything’s working for me right now.”
The second half of the doubleheader went in a very different direction.
It took three innings for Kansas to record a hit in game one, but senior shortstop Chaley Brickey blasted a leadoff homerun over the left field wall to start game two.
The Jayhawks went back to the long ball in the third as sophomores catcher Harli Ridling and Roane each blasted three- and two-run home runs, respectively. Starting pitcher sophomore Kristen Clark was replaced by von Sprecken after giving up five runs with two-outs in the frame.
Von Sprecken gave up consecutive singles and a walk to load the bases, and senior left fielder Shannon McGinley cashed in with a two-RBI single to cap the seven-run inning.
“We just couldn’t get out of that inning and we weren’t our best in the circle that second game,”
Connie Clark said. “[Kristen] will be hard on herself because she wants a better outing than that, but she just left some stuff sweet over the plate.”
Texas got on the board in the fourth after Hathaway reached on a leadoff single and senior shortstop Devon Tunning scored her on a double to left for her first RBI in 12 games.
Kansas got the run right back behind three straight hits including a RBI single from sophomore first baseman Daniella Chavez in the fifth to clinch the run-rule win.
The Longhorns won’t be dwelling on the loss for long as they prepare to battle for the series victory.
“Tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll come out, start all over again and just play our game,” Hathaway said.