Kansas Travels to UCF Invitational
Feb. 7, 2008
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Head coach Tracy Bunge and the <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>University of Kansas softball team head south this weekend to Orlando, Fla., where they open the 2008 season in the Central Florida Invitational. The Jayhawks open tournament play Friday morning, Feb. 8, with an 8:30 a.m. (CST) contest with Central Arkansas followed by 12:30 p.m. (CST) meeting with North Carolina State later in the day. KU will play a pair of early morning games Saturday with IllinoisState and host UCF. The tournament concludes Sunday with three rounds of playoffs.
Coach Bunge and juniors Val Chapple, Stevie Crisosto and Elle Pottorf took a moment to preview the season-opening invitational with members of the media Thursday.
Head Coach Tracy Bunge<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
On the pitching staff:
“Valerie George is a returning junior for us, but she hasn’t really gotten a ton of experience in two years because she has been pitching behind Kassie Humphreys. We have Sarah Vertelka, who had an eye-opening experience as a freshman last year. We also have a freshman, Allison Clark, who is potentially going to be able to do some really good things. We have a pitching staff that is untested right now, but it has the ability to do some very good things. No, they are not going to be like Kassie because none of the three of them are the power pitcher that Kassie was. So we are going to have to pitch smart and do what we need to do as a staff this year. That is what I am really preaching to this group: We are going to win because they are a great (pitching) staff together.”
On the talent in Orlando, Fla.:
“First and foremost the temperature is going to be 75 degrees. We are anxious to get into some good weather and get on some dirt because it has not been a whole lot of fun having to practice inside. It’s a nice mix of teams that we are playing. We are opening up with Central Arkansas, which is a second-year Division I program. They are still getting their feet wet playing Division I softball. Then from there it gets pretty tough real quick. IllinoisState: We have a lot of respect for that program and their head coach, who has been around for a long time. They were an NCAA Region team last year and had some success there. They are the kind of team that stays in games no matter what the score is. But they did lose their No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers, so they are going to be very young. I think they had something in the neighborhood of 88 home runs last year and they have nearly everyone back who contributed to that home run total. NC State will be next for us. That team won the ACC last year. They were extremely talented but were killed by graduation. They had 10 seniors graduate, including their No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers, who threw all but four games for them. They are going to be young in the circle. Central Florida is a little bit different. They have a senior returning on the mound. They lost a lot of offense, but they have their pitching game returning. I’m not expecting them to score a lot of runs, but it’s going to be tough to score runs against them.
Junior short stop Stevie Crisosto
On setting team and personal goals:
“We set a lot of goals, physically on the field and mentally to try to get us prepared for everything. Some of my goals are to improve on moving from the outfield to the infield; I had a little trouble with that transition last year. This year I’m really going back to the fundamentals.”
On replacing former infielder, Destiny Frankenstein:
“There were high expectations for a little while, especially since we are so different. I didn’t know if they wanted me to do my own thing or if they wanted me to model my game after Destiny. I talked to the coaches about that and they said they knew we were different and that we had different strengths. They told me to do what I could and after I got that in my head I felt better.”
Junior catcher Elle Pottorf
On overcoming challenges from last season:
“It really sucks to go through ups and downs like that as an athlete. I am definitely looking to turn it around and to be more consistent this year. I am trying to take a look at everything and change my swing a little bit so that it will help me in my weak points. Hopefully I will start out hot and stay hot the whole time. It’s always tough when you’re not playing like you know you can. You have to keep playing your way out of it. My injury may have played a little part, but not a lot. I was a year out of my injury at the time. I’m still having little problems and there are kinks to work out, but it’s definitely a lot better this year.”
Junior third baseman Val Chapple
On the season outlook:
“I’ve grown so much the past two years. They say that you spend the first two years learning how to play the game and the last two years you get to play the game. I don’t know much about the field or the facilities. The temperature (in Orlando) is supposed to be in the 70s. I am looking forward to that; it will be a nice change from the snow. We have a diverse amount of opponents and we have a couple that are getting ranking votes. There are also a couple teams that are just starting out. So basically, we are going to try to go out there and play our kind of ball.”