(Seattle, Wash.) – A seven-hour, 56-minute rain delay couldn’t stop Katie Kelley from tossing her seventh consecutive complete game, homering, and driving in three runs, to lead Kansas City to an 8-5 victory over the host Redhawks of Seattle U on Thursday.
The second-seeded ‘Roos (20-34) wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard in the home half of the first inning. Brooke Parker reached second base to lead things off and stole third base a few pitches later. After Cinda Ramos walked to put runners at the corners, Alexandra Friloux smacked a two-out RBI single through the left side to give UMKC a 1-0 lead.
SU answered with a solo shot in the top of the second inning, but the flood gates opened for the ‘Roos in the home half of the frame, both literally and figuratively.
Alex Gale was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the inning, putting pinch-runner Kaitlyn Carey at first base with nobody gone. Aly Zembruski moved Carey up with a sacrifice bunt down the first base line, and Kristi Lee delivered Carey with a seeing-eye RBI single through the right side of the infield. The game would be paused by Mother Nature one batter later, as rainfall forced the teams to seek shelter with Lee at second base and Parker at the plate with a 3-0 count.
After a one-hour wait-and-see approach, UMKC was sent to its hotel until further notice. That delay turned into a nearly eight-hour stoppage of play, testing the focus and resolve of both teams.
“Our players did an outstanding job with the rain delay,” said head coach Meredith Smith Neal. “Any delay is tough to deal with, but to be delayed as long as we were today is extremely difficult. I was very proud of the way that they responded to the situation.”
When the ‘Roos returned to the diamond, they did so with authority. Parker singled to left field, moving Lee to third and placing runners at the corners for Ramos, who plated Lee with a deep sacrifice fly to left field. One batter later, Kelley singled, driving in Parker, and bringing Caitlin Christopher to the plate with a runner on and one out. Christopher crushed the first pitch she saw, a two-run shot to right field, to blow the game wide-open. When the dust settled, an inning that took seemingly half a day to complete ended with five runs on four hits and a 6-1 lead for UMKC.
“The first two times through the order, we were on fire,” said assistant coach Natalie Brock. “Everyone contributed and Katie (Kelley) and Caitlin (Christopher) delivered the daggers.”
The ‘Roos added two more in the bottom of the fourth after Ramos reached base with one out and Kelley connected with a two-run run home run – her 11th of the season – increasing the margin to 8-1. Moreover, in a season of record shattering, Kelley became the program single-season RBI leader (37) with the blast.
Seattle cut into the deficit with a couple of unearned runs in the fifth inning, and touched up Kelley for a pair in the seventh inning, as well. But any semblance of a comeback by the hosts fell well short, as the sophomore from Coweta, Okla., slammed the door closed to earn her 13th victory of the season.
“Katie was focused from breakfast this morning until the bus ride home,” said Smith Neal. “Everyone fed off of her confidence.”
Kansas City advances to face the winner of New Mexico State and Utah Valley at 4 p.m. (CST) tomorrow afternoon.