On Friday, March 8, the University of Maine softball team traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, to play two games against the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) at the Jayhawk Invitational. The Black Bears were unable to stay ahead of UMKC, losing their first game of the invitational with a final score of 2-8 in favor of the Kansas City Kangaroos. The second game of the day finished out with a much closer final score, as the Black Bears were only two points behind the Kangaroos as the game finished with a score of 4-6. The Black Bears were set to play a second set of games on Saturday, March 9, but the games were canceled without plans to reschedule.
On Friday afternoon, first-year Grace McGouldrick, fourth-year Laurine German, fourth-year Allyssa Derrick, second-year Shanna Scribner, second-year Hailey Perry, fourth-year Maddie Decker, fourth-year Meghan Royle, second-year Amanda Nee, first-year Kelby Drews and second-year Lilly Volk started for the Black Bears.
The Kangaroos took a quick lead in game one of two on Friday afternoon, as the UMKC hitter put the ball in play with a runner on third, allowing the Kangaroos to score on the ground-out. The Kangaroos scored again with a runner on third with less than two outs, allowing the UMKC women to bring the score up to 2-0 early in the game.
However, the Black Bears were able to get a point on the board with a home run to lead off the fourth inning, credited to Perry. The home run was the second that Perry had scored for the Black Bears this year and allowed the UMaine women to start creeping closer to the Kangaroos. The Black Bears were able to tie the score at the bottom of the fourth, when Drews drove home the second run of the inning, bringing the score up to 2-2.
At the top of the fifth inning, the Black Bears brought Emily Reid, a first-year, in to pitch. The Kangaroos were able to grab the lead with a run and were able to hold onto the 3-2 score coming out of the fifth inning.
The Kangaroos gained the lead with six runs by the seventh inning, finishing out the game with a final score of 8-2 in favor of UMKC.
The second game of the night saw the Black Bears playing against the Kansas University Jayhawks. The teams were able to make it through the first inning without scoring, as German was the only woman on the field to get a hit in. Going into the second inning, the Black Bears struck first as Keely Clark, a first-year, lifted a sacrifice fly to center bringing Perry home, bringing the score up to 1-0 in favor of the Black Bears. In the next inning, Brianna Neely, a first-year, was walked, then proceeded to steal second base on the first pitch for McGouldrick. McGouldrick then lined a double to the left field wall, allowing the Black Bears to gain the advantage for a short time. The Jayhawks were quick to catch up, as they scored two in the bottom of the third, tying the game at 2-2 going into the fourth inning.
The Black Bears were able to gain the lead again in the first half of the fourth inning, after German drove Clark home, allowing the UMaine women a 3-2 lead over the Jayhawks. Kansas University didn’t let them keep the lead for long, when they scored three in the bottom half of the fourth inning, leaving UMaine trailing by two runs.
The Black Bears didn’t give up without a fight though, as Rebecca Findley, a first-year, came onto the field to replace Alyssa Derrick. Findley singled to left field, bringing home Neely and bringing the Black Bears up to tail the Jayhawks by one run. Kansas University cemented their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when they launched a home run that propelled the Jayhawks into a two-run lead that the Black Bears were unable to defeat, finishing out the game with a final score of 6-4 in favor of Kansas University.
While the games on the second day of the invitational were, canceled, the Black Bears would continue to play once more on Sunday, March 10 against Southeastern Missouri State University at the venue in Lawrence, Kansas.
The next set of games for the Black Bears will take place in Memphis, Tennessee, starting with a game on Saturday, March 16 against the University of North Alabama.