(Kansas City, Mo.) – In what has been an up and down year, the Kansas City Kangaroos (17-25, 6-7 SL) finished their regular season on a high note by clinching their third consecutive Summit League Tournament appearance with a split at home in Sunday’s season finale doubleheader with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (16-30, 6-17 SL), 11-7 and 5-4.
Coming into the weekend, the Kangaroos needed to play one game to meet the league’s 12-game requirement to qualify for post-season play, along with the IUPUI Jaguars (18-31, 7-16 SL) losing twice or getting swept by Fort Wayne.
In game one, the Kangaroos got off to a fast start in the first with back-to-back leadoff singles by outfielder Bri Wyatt and infielder Jenna Rangel. Two batters later, after infielder Marlee Maples reached on a fielder’s choice as Wyatt moved to third and Rangel was tagged out at second, outfielder Emily Ott drove in Wyatt with a bunt-single, followed by infielder Chelsea Hartwig RBI-singling to right field as Maples scored.
Kansas City continued its scoring output during the first inning when catcher Alexandra Friloux drove in two runs to make it a 4-0 ball game with a single.
In the third, meanwhile, the Jackrabbits cut UMKC’s lead to one, headlined by outfielder Krista Honken’s RBI-double to left center to bring in two runs. Although, Kansas City battled back to push its lead back to two when Friloux drove in pinch runner Brooke Parker from third with a single to right.
Next inning, same score, South Dakota State’s offense maintained its momentum by taking advantage of two Kangaroo errors to score five runs on four hits as the Jackrabbits now led, 8-5. Yet, similar to the previous inning, the Kangaroos answered by scoring twice to cut the deficit to one when outfielder Kelsey Dean scored from third on a wild pitch, while Ott RBI-singled to left as Wyatt notched her second run of the game.
After neither team scored in the fifth, the Jackrabbits made it an 11-7 ball game during the sixth when outfielder Emily Weber (2) hit a three-run homer off reliever Deanna Friese (12-11).
With the Kangaroos now reeling, they had a chance to cut into SDSU’s lead later in the frame when infielder Katie Petersen moved Dean and Wyatt over to second and third with a sacrifice bunt for the first out. Despite with runners in scoring position, Maples popped out to short, followed by Ott grounding out to short as the Jackrabbits got out of the jam.
After holding SDSU scoreless in the seventh, the Kangaroos found themselves down to their last out after Hartwig popped out to short and designated player/pitcher Katie Kelley (1-1) flew out to right. Although, after Friloux managed to get on base for a third time with a single to right, ensuing batter Maddie Garton flew out to right as the Jackrabbits came away with the victory.
With this loss, it extended UMKC’s season-long losing streak to eight games.
Offensively, the Kangaroos tallied 11 hits, led by Wyatt going 4-for-4 with two runs scored and Friloux turning a 3-for-4 performance with three RBI. In addition, Ott managed to go 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
In game two, Kansas City once again got on the board first by taking advantage of a wild pitch by SDSU’s Kori Seidlitz (9-20) as Wyatt and Rangel scored from second and third.
However, SDSU’s offense got going in the third when it connected for four-straight singles as the Jackrabbits scored three runs on five hits to take a 3-2 lead.
Two innings later, same score, South Dakota State increased its lead to two when infielder/pitcher Alex Landon (2-2) drove in infielder Kelly Kleppin with a single to left field.
But, the Kangaroos battled back in the sixth when they loaded bases after Hartwig was dinged by Seidlitz, followed by Kelley drawing Seidlitz’ s second consecutive walk as Maples touched home plate to make it a 4-3 ball game. Then, Seidlitz forced Friloux to fly out to left, but Ott was able to score from third during the sequence to tie the game after an erred throw by SDSU.
In the seventh, after UMKC held the Jackrabbits scoreless, Dean led off the frame with a walk, followed by Wyatt connecting for her third single of the game. Next up, after Petersen moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, Maples sent a chopper towards second but Marlee Petersen was unable to handle the ball for SDSU’s third error of the game as Dean touched home plate for game-winning run.
At game’s end, the Kangaroos managed just four hits compared to SDSU’s nine. Leading the way for the Kangaroos at the plate once again was Wyatt going 3-for-3 with a run scored.
In the circle, meanwhile, Friese allowed two earned runs, three walks and tallied four K’s in her final start at home.
Coming up, the Kangaroos will take on top-seeded and championship host, North Dakota State, in the opening round of The Summit League Championships this Thursday at 1 p.m. in Fargo, N.D.
Below is the full tournament schedule and seeding’s.
Thursday, May 9
1 p.m. - Game One: (1) North Dakota State vs. (4) Kansas City
4 p.m. - Game Two: (2) Fort Wayne vs. (3) South Dakota
Friday, May 10
12 p.m. - Game Three: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
3:00 p.m. - Game Four: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
6 p.m. - Game Five: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Winner
Saturday, May 11
1 p.m. - Game Six: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner
3:40 p.m. - Game Seven: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser*