Kansas Softball Opens 2010 Season This Weekend in Houston

Feb. 10, 2010


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► Leading off

First year head coach Megan Smith and the 2010 Kansas softball team will make their season debut this weekend, Feb. 12-14, in the Marriott Hobby Invite hosted by Houston. The Jayhawks will open the tournament with games versus No. 22/21 Louisville (11 a.m.) and Sam Houston State (1 p.m.) on Friday. On Saturday, KU will face Sam Houston State again followed by Houston. Kansas wraps up the weekend with a game versus No. 14/16 Ohio State Sunday.

► About Kansas

Kansas returns 12 letterwinners from its 2009 squad, which finished 21-31 overall last season and 6-11 in the Big 12 Conference, and adds seven newcomers to the mix. The Jayhawks lost half of its lineup from last year after graduating five senior starters. Junior Liz Kocon is KU’s top returning offensive threat having hit .273 last season. Senior Sarah Vertelka is the team’s top returning pitcher and had a .3.37 ERA in 2009.

► Under New Management

Megan Smith was named the eighth head coach in Kansas softball history on June 24, 2009. A former player at North Carolina, Smith spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Louisiana State University. During her time with the Tigers, LSU made NCAA Tournament appearances all three years. Among the Tigers’ three tournament appearances with Smith in the dugout, LSU made an appearance in the 2007 Super Regionals. That year, the Tigers also won their fifth SEC Tournament. Before LSU, Smith was the head coach at Western Carolina for its inaugural season in 2006 when the Catamounts won the Southern Conference regular season. Prior to WCU, Smith made coaching stops at North Carolina and Charlotte as an assistant. She began her coaching career as head coach at Young Harris College (NJCAA).

► The Jayhawk Infield

– Five players return to the KU infield in seniors Amanda Jobe and Sara Ramirez, junior Kolby Fesmire and sophomore Marissa Ingle. Senior Alicia Irwin makes the transition from the outfield to the infield in 2010.

– Kansas lost Val Chapple (third base) and Stevie Crisosto (shortstop) last season to graduation.

– Jobe and Ramirez are both three-year starters. Jobe has been the sole first baseman for the past two seasons, while Ramirez has been close by playing second base. Ramirez will move across the diamond to shortstop this season.

– Irwin and Ingle served reserve roles in 2009 but have a good chance of seeing an increase in playing time this year with KU’s lack of depth.

– Freshmen Mariah Montgomery and Kendall Patterson, an all-America third team member, will also see time on the field. Patterson is also listed as a catcher.

– Montgomery was a first team all-state selection who owns the Kansas class B state record for triples in a season with 10 and Patterson is the Kansas state record holder for career hits (164), doubles (66) and batting average (.743) and holds single-season records in doubles (27) and batting average (.810) as well.

► The Jayhawk Outfield

– The Jayhawks will have lots of options in the grass as eight players are listed as outfielders, including returners Ally Stanton, Liz Kocon, Allie Clark and Kelsey Alsdorf.

– Stanton is the lone senior of the group and has split time with fellow outfielders the last two seasons. She could see an increased role in 2010 if she can find a way to improve on the offensive side of the ball.

– Kocon, a junior, is KU’s most experienced returner having started close to 50 games in each of the last two seasons.

Koon and Clark both emerged as offensive weapons in 2009. Kocon is the team’s top returning player from the batter’s box having hit .273 last season, while Clark recorded the sixth-most single-season homers in KU history with 10.

– Alsdorf saw action in 22 games in 2009, primarily as a pinch runner. She will compete for field time with freshmen Maggie Hull, Rosie Hull, Julie Jenkins and Alex Jones, although Jones’ main role will be as a pitcher for the Jayhawks.

► The Jayhawk Pitchers

KU lacks experience from the pitcher’s cirlce having graduating its number one pitcher in Val George last year. It will look for senior Sarah Vertelka to pick up the slack along with Clark and freshman Alex Jones.

– Vertelka made 21 starts and was second on the team with a 3.37 ERA in 2009, while Clark made just eight appearances.

– Freshman Alex Jones will add some much needed depth at the pitcher position. In her senior year at Enid High School, Jones set school records for ERA (0.11) and highest winning percentage going 23-2 (.920). She is also her school’s career strikeout leader with 1,043 K’s.

► The Jayhawk Catchers

Junior Brittany Hile is fully recovered from an injury suffered in the middle of last season and will have the starting nod at catcher.

– Sophomore Leah Daiber also returns as a catcher for KU but saw limited action last year playing in two games.

– Newcomers Marissa Olson and Patterson will compete for playing time.

► Up Next

Kansas softball returns south next weekend, Feb. 19-21, for the Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. On Friday the Jayhawks will take on Marshall and last year’s national runner-up Florida. During the second day of competition Kansas plays Campbell and East Carolina and then wraps up the tournament on Sunday with another game versus Marshall.