KU Season Outlook: Youth In the Infield

Jan. 30, 2007

Youth in the Infield
Returning at first base is senior Nicole Washburn (St. Peters, Mo.), who will have fierce competition from freshman Amanda Jobe (Shawnee, Kan.). Washburn is a three-year starter with valuable experience while Jobe brings a little more offensively.

“Nic has experience on her side and we know what we are going to get out of her,” head coach Tracy Bunge said. “Jobe has a little more pop in her bat and is a lefty, which makes a difference at first base. Both are very solid defensively, but the determining factor will be who can provide more offensive punch.”

The other returning infielder is third baseman Val Chapple (Overland Park, Kan.). Chapple, also KU’s top returning hitter, started 61 games last season and compiled a .228 batting average. She brings power to the lineup and is expected to hit somewhere between the No. 3 and No. 5 spots.

“Chapple learned a lot last year as a freshman and will be solid defensively while continuing to work on her hitting weaknesses,” Bunge said.

Competing for time at third is junior transfer Addy Lucero (Farmington, N.M.). Lucero played first base for two years at Odessa Junior College, but will make the transition over to third. She was recruited for her offensive prowess and will also be utilized as a pinch hitter off the bench.

With the loss four-year starters Destiny Frankenstein (shortstop) and Jessica Moppin (second base), there will be some uncertainty with the young middle infield.

Rookie Sara Ramirez (Pacioma, Calif.) played shortstop in high school and will make the move to the right side of the field to start at second.

“Sara is a gamer and a tough kid — some things we love in softball players as a coaching staff,” Bunge commented. “She has talent and great hands and we’re excited to see what she can do.”

Backing up Ramirez at second is sophomore transfer Dougie McCaulley (Victorville, Calif.). McCaulley, who played second base as a freshman at Odessa Junior College, will be primarily an outfielder for the Jayhawks.

Sophomore Stevie Crisosto (Palo Cedro, Calif.) started 60 games in the outfield and at first base in 2006, but moves back to her natural position at shortstop this season. Crisosto hit .204 with 11 doubles as a freshman and could be listed anywhere from No. 2 to No. 6 in the lineup.

“Stevie might be our best true athlete,” Bunge said. “She has a good arm and is very comfortable coming back to the position she played in high school.”

About the Jayhawks
Coming off its first-ever Big 12 Conference Postseason Championship and second-straight NCAA Regionals bid, Kansas softball is no stranger to recent success. However, with six departed seniors — including All-American Serena Settlemier — and eight newcomers, the Jayhawks will have a new look in 2007.

KU began spring practice on Jan. 15 — but without three Jayhawks who were delayed by travel due to severe winter weather throughout the country. The Jayhawks soon got back on track and are making the best of practicing indoors. With less than three and a half weeks to practice together as a squad, KU opens the season Feb. 8 at the Campbell-Cartier Classic in a warmer San Diego, Calif.

The Jayhawks return 10 letterwinners this season, which consist of six underclassmen, two juniors and two seniors. KU’s top returner, senior pitcher Kassie Humphreys (Glendale, Ariz.), had a breakthrough season in 2006 and comes back as one of the top hurlers in the Big 12.

“It’s going to be fun to watch this group evolve,” Bunge said. “They have great chemistry. Our strength is going to be our pitching staff and we are very solid at that position.”

Coming soon — New Faces In the Outfield