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Shutouts are nice but wins are better

KU ace Kasey Hamilton tosses 11th complete game this season and says 'a mindset shift' led to her early success in 2024

4 min read
KU pitcher Kasey Hamilton (24) celebrates the Jayhawks' 3-2 win over No. 13 Baylor on Friday night, when she recorded her Big 12-leading 11th complete game of the season. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Heading into the fifth inning of Friday night’s home battle with No. 13 Baylor, Kansas softball ace Kasey Hamilton appeared to be well on her way to recording another shutout to add to her Big 12-leading total so far this season.

But a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth by the Bears squashed that idea, so Hamilton did the only thing she could think of after that.

She threw up two more zeroes in the sixth and seventh.

The fact that her team was able to fight for two more runs along the way gave the Jayhawks a 3-2 victory and their biggest win of the season to date.

“One thing that, consistently, every coach in my life has ever told me is that it’s not about the mistakes you make or the errors that you have, it’s how you respond,” Hamilton told R1S1 Sports after Friday’s win.

So, she responded by doing what she has done so often this season already. Dominating.

The Bears’ sixth inning went groundout, walk, groundout, strikeout. No more damage.

That set the stage for sophomore first baseman Campbell Bagshaw (2-for-3, 3 RBIs) to blast her second home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth to help the Jayhawks reclaim the lead.

Hamilton went right back to work in the top of the seventh to slam the door. The Bears’ final at-bat of the night went strikeout, groundout, pop out.

“That was my thought when I went back in the dugout: We have six more outs and that needs to be taken one pitch at a time,” Hamilton said of Friday’s finish. “When we went back out onto the field in the sixth inning, we all said, ‘That’s all they get. That’s it.’”

For the veteran Jayhawk, those two innings, and, really, this entire season, were the result of a totally new approach on the field.

Hamilton’s been a huge part of this program for years now. But the results haven’t always followed. This year, they’re showing up. The wins. The stats. The swag. All of it.

“This year, mine and my teammates’ mindset has switched to other teams have to compete with us this year and not just we are competing with them,” Hamilton said Friday night. “We’re a good team, and they’re gonna have to come out and beat us.”

She called that “a mindset switch” and reiterated that the Jayhawks, both as a whole and her individually, have approached everything they’ve done this season “a lot more offensively.”

Earlier this season, from Feb. 22 through March 5, Hamilton tossed four consecutive complete-game shutouts while posting 28 consecutive scoreless innings.

She currently leads the conference with 11 complete games and five shutouts. She also is fourth in the Big 12 in strikeouts, with 58, and 10th in batting average against, allowing opponents to hit just .214 to date when she’s in the circle.

KU pitcher Kasey Hamilton signs autographs for a few young fans following Friday's 3-2 win over 13th-ranked Baylor at Arrocha Ballpark in Lawrence. [R1S1 Sports photo]

“Winning’s contagious. I think everybody says it,” Hamilton said after moving to 7-5 on the season. “But just going out every single inning and expecting to put a zero on the board has been big. It’s not great to go out every game and say I’m not going to give up any runs. But to go out every game and say I’m gonna hit my spots and throw my best pitches, that’s all we can do. And it’s been working.”

So, what about that near-miss shutout on Friday night? Surely it bummed her out that she missed shutout No. 6 because of a couple of unearned runs, right?

“Not really at all,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. “It’s fun to have nice stats. That’s all fun and good. But really, wins with my team is the most important thing.”

Hamilton and the Jayhawks (17-7-1 overall, 2-2 Big 12) will host Baylor at 2 p.m. Saturday and again at noon on Sunday in the series finale.

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