OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Trailing by a pair of runs in the final inning, the Kansas Jayhawks scored four runs in the top of the seventh to come back to beat No. 8 Oklahoma State 8-7 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Softball Championship at Hall of Fame Stadium.
The Jayhawks will now face No. 7 Texas in the semifinals today at 4 p.m., with the winner advancing to the championship game on Saturday.
With Oklahoma State leading 6-4 in the seventh, Olivia Bruno opened the inning with a single to left. Ashlyn Anderson then singled to short, putting runners on first and second with no outs. After a fielder’s choice, Sara Roszak singled up the middle to score Anderson and make it a one-run game. With two runners still on, a wild pitch moved both up a base to second and third.
Savanna DesRochers followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice, which scored Lyric Moore and tied the game at six apiece. Moore was originally called out at the plate, but the call was overturned after review, and she was called safe with the run counting. The Jayhawks weren’t done there.
Shayna Espy singled to left to score courtesy runner Peyton Renzi and make it 7-6, Kansas. Haleigh Harper then reached on an error, scoring DesRoschers and giving the Jayhawks an insurance run heading to the bottom of the seventh.
It turned out the Jayhawks needed the insurance, with the Cowgirls scoring off a two-out RBI triple to make it 8-7. But pitcher Lizzy Ludwig secured the final out via a flyout to secure the dramatic come-from-behind win for the sixth-seeded Jayhawks over the third-seeded Cowgirls.
Junior left-hander Kasey Hamilton opened the game for the Jayhawks on Thursday afternoon in the circle and pitched three strong innings, allowing just one run, before the game was suspended because of inclement weather with Kansas leading 3-1 through three innings.
Oklahoma State got on the board first in the second inning on Thursday. After a single and a walk to open the inning, the runner advanced to third thanks to a groundout. She was able to race home off of a deep sacrifice fly, giving the Cowgirls a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
However, the Jayhawks responded in the next frame. After the first batter struck out, senior catcher Jordan Richards drew a walk and Espy singled to left, putting runners on first and second.
After going 8-for-11 last week, Harper picked up where she left off. She ripped a double to the left field gap to score both runners and to give KU a 2-1 lead. In the next at-bat, freshman left fielder Presley Limbaugh singled to center and Harper was able to race home to extend KU’s lead to 3-1 in the top of the third. The game was then suspended after the third.
After resuming play at 10 a.m. this morning, Oklahoma State rallied to a four-run fourth inning to jump ahead of Kansas. OSU opened the frame with a single, followed by two groundouts and a walk to put runners on the corners. In the next at-bat, the Cowgirls singled to right to score their second run of the game. With runners on the corners again, OSU hit a three-run shot over the right field wall to take a 5-3 lead.
KU answered by scoring a run of its own in the top of the sixth. Limbaugh slapped a hard grounder to short, making way for back-to-back errors, which was enough to score Espy from second and to cut OSU’s lead down to 5-4.
But the Cowgirls again responded in the bottom half of the sixth, scoring another run off of two singles to extend their lead to 6-4, setting up the seventh inning dramatics.
PITCHERS OF RECORD
Win: Lizzy Ludwig (5-8)Final line: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO Loss: Kyra Aycock (9-2) Final line: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
The Jayhawks will face off against No. 10 Texas in the semi finals of the 2023 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship today at 4 p.m. CT. The action will be streamed via Big 12 Now on ESPN+.