KU Softball Season Outlook: The Pitchers
Jan. 27, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Heading into the 2009 season, Kansas boasts four pitchers on its roster, the largest bullpen crew head coach Tracy Bunge has seen in her time at KU.
“This is the first time we have had four players on our pitching staff,” said Bunge. “It’s great having this much depth and they are all very different in their pitching styles.”
Of the four-person crew, three are returners from 2008 and all three finished with winning records last season led by senior Val George, who went 18-10 and ranked fourth in the Big 12 Conference with a 1.96 ERA.
George received the starting nod last season and will once again be called upon to be the Jayhawks’ ace in the circle.
“George stepped up last year and has really matured as a player,” Bunge said of the Tucson, Ariz., native. “She has stepped forward in her leadership capabilities as well this year. She laid a solid foundation last season and we expect that same success from last year to carry over to this year. She is a big game pitcher and should get the ball quite a bit.”
Also back are junior Sarah Vertelka (10-5, 2.54 ERA) and sophomore Allie Clark (9-4, 3.10 ERA, 99.1 innings).
“We need others on the staff to step up,” Bunge stated. “Vertelka is a junior now, and she deserves some time. I think she is ready to take that next step forward for the team. We saw good moments from Clark last year, but inconsistencies plagued her. She needs to build on what she finished with last year.”
The three veterans will receive support from freshman Sarah Blair, who comes to Kansas from James E. Taylor High School in Katy, Texas. Blair, who played club ball for former KU softball coach Kalum Haack, was the Houston area player of the year as a senior and holds her school’s single-season record for home runs with eight.
“Blair has a lot of tools and talent, and hopefully she can step right in and give quality innings,” said Bunge. “She also has a lot of power with the bat.”
About the Jayhawks
Coming off its most wins since 1997 with a 37-19 record in 2008, Kansas returns eight of its starters from a year ago and 13 letterwinners overall, while welcoming five talented newcomers to the 2009 team.
KU began spring practice on Jan. 9 and will have just four weeks of practice before they open the season Feb. 6-8 in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., where four of the Jayahwks’ five opponents are ranked in the top 25.
Coming soon: Familiar Faces In the Infield