Although she never watches the show, Kansas University sophomore softball player Kelsey Alsdorf said she knows the cast for the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Thursday, during KU’s three-run fifth inning that powered the Jayhawks to a 6-5 victory against Valparaiso, Alsdorf appeared to be auditioning for a spot.
With the game tied at 3 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Alsdorf slapped a single to right field that scored Alicia Irwin and Brittany Hile to give Kansas a 5-3 lead.
Not content with the two-RBI at-bat, Alsdorf did a little dancing between first and second that allowed Mariah Montgomery to slide home safely with what proved to be the winning run.
“It was a little bit of both, keep me safe and try to score the run,” Alsdorf said. “We work a lot in practice on first-and-third situations, and it paid off.”
The victory improved Kansas to 10-10 on the season, but more importantly kept the Jayhawks perfect in home openers at Arrocha Ballpark (7-0) and gave first-year head coach Megan Smith her first home victory as a Jayhawk.
Smith talked about the game’s special meaning.
“It was really surreal being out here before the game getting ready for it,” Smith said. “We played here in the fall, but it means a lot more now that it’s our actual season. It’s just exciting, and I’m real excited to be here.”
KU’s victory was aided by a two-run home run from Montgomery in the second inning — her first career round-tripper — a gritty pitching performance from Sarah Vertelka (4-6), who relieved starter Allie Clark, and a couple of nice defensive plays from junior second baseman Sara Ramirez.
The first defensive highlight ended Valpo’s threat in the top of the fifth and came in a most unusual way. With two runners on base in a tie game, Joylyn Ichiyama rocked a shot off of the glove of KU first baseman Amanda Jobe. The deflection, however, bounced into the glove of the hustling Ramirez, who doubled off the runner at first base to end the inning.
The next play came in the top of the sixth after a two-RBI double from Tori Brown cut KU’s lead to 6-5. As Brown raced for an extra base, she was gunned down at third by a perfect relay throw from Ramirez, who caught and fired a rocket from freshman Rosie Hull in right field.
“That relay won us the game,” Smith said.
Kansas and Valpo will return to action at 2 today.