Orlando, Fla. Sophomore Kelsey Kessler and the Kansas University softball team fell on the short end of a pitchers’ duel, as the Jayhawks dropped a 1-0 decision in their season opener to host Central Florida on Friday in the UCF Knights Invitational.
The Jayhawks then fell to South Dakota, 5-1, later Friday.
Kessler faced 20 batters over six innings, allowing just one hit that led to an unearned run. She also struck out seven and walked a pair.
In a scoreless tie with one out in the bottom of the third inning, Kessler surrendered a triple in right center to UCF’s ninth hitter, Maddy Schroeder. It looked like Kessler and the Jayhawks would get out of the frame unscathed, but Ashley Newman fielded a sharply hit grounder at second and her throw pulled Maddie Stein off the bag and plated the unearned run.
The Jayhawks left a pair of runners on base in both the second and sixth innings, while leaving one in three more innings to total seven stranded.
Senior Alex Jones stroked a looping single over third base in the third inning for KU’s first hit of the 2014 season. In the sixth inning, Stein put one in about the same spot, this time for a double, and KU had runners on second and third with only one out. Harli Ridling battled through an 11-pitch at-bat, but eventually struck out, and Chaley Brickey grounded out to the pitcher to end the frame.
UCF’s Mackenzie Audas struck out 10 Jayhawks to earn her first victory of the season.