Freshman Madi Clarke recorded two RBI on Friday against Kansas.
Liberty trailed unbeaten Kansas, 5-4, through five innings Friday, before the Jayhawks pulled away with a five-run sixth in a 10-4 victory over the Lady Flames at Florida's Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Kansas opens the Aquafina Invitational with a victory, and is off to a program-best 11-0 start. The Lady Flames fall to 4-6, and will face No. 1/1 Florida later this evening.
Junior Chaley Brickey went 3-for-5 with a double, homer and four RBI for Kansas. Freshman Daniella Chavez, senior Chanin Naudin and sophomore Lily Behrmann recorded two hits apiece.
For Liberty, senior Megan Robinson went 2-for-4, while freshman Madi Clarke batted 1-for-3 with two RBI. Senior Kelby Allen and freshman Madison Kotchey both recorded one hit and one RBI, while junior Blair Lawrence and Tori Zavodny both stole their eighth base of the season.
Jayhawk junior Monique Wesley (3-0) earned the win with 2 1/3 innings of work, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out four and walking three. Senior Beth Wilson pitched two innings, giving up two runs on three hits, while freshman Bryn Houlton finished with 2 2/3 innings of one-hit softball.
Liberty redshirt junior Chandler Ball (3-3) sustained the defeat after yielding nine runs, eight earned, on 13 hits, fanning three and walking three in 5 1/3 innings of work. Freshman Abby Tincher gave up one run in 1/3 of an inning, walking four, while redshirt sophomore Kenzie Friesen allowed one hit in a scoreless 1 1/3 innings.
Kansas jumped ahead with a two-run first inning. After junior Briana Evans and Behrmann singled, Brickey hit an RBI double for a 1-0 lead. Naudin hit a sacrifice fly to plate the Jayhawks' second run before a popout ended the inning.
After Kansas stranded a pair in the top of the second, Liberty threatened to score during its second time up. Junior Mickey Loveridge walked as the leadoff batter, but was caught stealing. An error and walks to Kotchey and senior Jamie Crisp loaded the bases with two outs, before Wesley fanned Lawrence for the third out.
The Jayhawks added three runs during the third frame, as the first five batters reached base safely. Senior Maddie Stein, who hit a leadoff single, advanced home after three wild pitches. Following a bases-loaded walk, Liberty turned a double play while yielding one run on the play. A groundout ended the inning with Kansas ahead, 5-0.
Liberty responded in the bottom of the third, as Zavodny, Robinson and Allen all singled to open the stanza. Allen's base hit scored Zavodny. Wilson then entered the circle for Kansas. She gave up a one-out RBI single to Kotchey, trimming the margin to 5-2. A walk to Clarke loaded the bases, but the Jayhawks escaped the inning with a fielder's choice.
The Lady Flames turned another double play to end the top of the fourth inning. Lawrence led off the bottom half with a single and stole second. After a groundout sent her to third, Allen popped out to end the rally.
Liberty continued its comeback by scoring twice in the fifth. Wilson hit Loveridge and walked freshman Alexia Taylor. With runners on second and third and one out, Clarke sent a two-run single to center, trimming the deficit to 5-4. Houlton then relieved Wilson to retire the final two batters.
Kansas boosted its advantage to 10-4 with a five-run sixth. Brickey hit a three-run homer, and Stein followed with a double. Tincher came on in relief of Ball, and walked in a pair of runs in 1/3 of an inning. Friesen entered the circle for the final out.
Liberty put the first two batters on during its sixth at bat, as Zavodny walked and Robinson singled. However, Houlton retired the next three Lady Flames in a row.
After Friesen pitched a scoreless top of the seventh, Houlton tossed a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win for Kansas.
The Lady Flames next take on the defending national champion, the host No. 1/1 Florida Gators, this evening following the Kansas-Illinois State game at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.