Kansas Heads to SEC Country for Tiger Invitational
Feb. 13, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Hot off advancing to the championship game in the opening weekend with an offensive tear that led all Big 12 teams, Kansas prepares for the Tiger Invitational hosted by Auburn, Feb. 15-17.
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Fans can follow the action on GameTracker for all four games, located on the softball schedule page on KUAthletics.com. Live scoring and weather updates can also be found by following JayhawkSoftball on Twitter.
Vs. Indiana State (KU leads, 5-1): Kansas leads the all-time advantage, 5-1, in a series that dates back to 1983. The Jayhawks and Sycamores have never met away from Lawrence and have not faced each other since Kansas took both games in a March 8-9, 2008 series.
Vs. Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC leads, 2-0): Kansas has met the Lady Mocs twice on the softball field, but has yet to win against UTC. In fact, KU will be looking to score to for the first time against the Lady Mocs after being shut out in 2001 and 2010.
Vs. Auburn (KU leads, 1-0): KU won its only meeting with the Tigers on a neutral field during the 1998 season.
Vs. Bryant University (First meeting): Bryant is in its first season of transitioning into NCAA Division I competition. The two teams have never met.
- Kansas got out to a hot start, hitting .373 to lead the Big 12 in batting average during the season’s opening weekend.
- Individually, freshman Alex Hugo led the league with a .667 average in her collegiate debut, racking up 10 hits – more than any other hitter in the Big 12.
- Through the first weekend, Kansas is the only school in the league to have three players in the top-10 for batting average (Alex Hugo, .667, 1st; Alex Jones, .563, 3rd; Maggie Hull, .471, 8th).
- Kansas racked up 53 hits in its first weekend. A year ago, the Jayhawks totaled just 35 hits in their opening tournament.
- Head coach Megan Smith is one of the rookies among her fellow coaches this weekend. Aside from ISU’s head coach Shane Bouman, who is in his second year, Smith is the newest as she enters her fourth season at Kansas. UTC is coached by Frank Reed in his 12th season, Tina Deese is in her 17th season at Auburn, while Lisa-Ann Wallace begins her 13th season with Bryant this weekend.
The Jayhawks shot out of the gate in their season opener, run-ruling North Carolina State, 8-0 in six innings. Picking up where she left off a year ago, senior leftfielder Maggie Hull led the team with a pair of doubles during her 3-for-4, three-RBI effort. Hull’s cast of offensive characters, however, may be even deeper in 2013 than they were in 2012. Six of KU’s starters hit over .350 last weekend, while three hit over .450, highlighted by freshman catcher Alex Hugo’s impressive .667 clip.
Defensively, Smith’s added depth transitioned smoothly as newcomers played prepared and those who in new positions appeared unfazed. Kansas sailed through the first weekend with a .985 fielding percentage, despite the fact that two freshmen started and two additional players played new positions. Senior Mariah Montgomery’s shift to second base and redshirt junior Alex Jones’ slight move to right from centerfield played out without a hitch. Meanwhile, Hugo caught and played first base fluidly, but freshman shortstop Chaley Brickey made the biggest defensive impact by snagging several would-be line drives.
In the circle, Kansas received solid innings from sophomore Alicia Pille, who went 2-0 in her opening weekend, including a one-hit shutout against NC State in the season opener. The Big 12’s leader in saves in 2012, Pille already recorded her first save of the season. Freshman Kelsey Kessler (1-1) took KU’s only loss, but leads the staff with 20 strikeouts.
Indiana State (4-1) | Friday | 5:30 p.m. CT
Voted to finish 10th in the Missouri Valley Conference, Indiana State’s 4-1 start marks its best since the 1990 season. Led by second-year head coach Shane Bouman, Indiana State is on its way to turning around its 19-34 overall, 6-20 MVC season from a year ago.
The Sycamores earned four-straight wins to open the 2013 season by defeating IPFW, Northern Colorado twice, and North Dakota before falling to Iowa State. After five games complete, Indiana State has seven players batting .300 or over and has a team batting average of .343.
Like KU’s Hugo, junior transfer Morgan Allee also had a great debut weekend, going 9-for-18 for a team-high .500 batting average and five RBIs. Junior Shelby Wilson and freshman Alexa Calvin are right behind their team leader as each are posting a .467 batting average.
In the circle, the Sycamores are led by redshirt sophomore Stephanie Fougerousse’s 1.98 ERA. She is 2-0 in her two starts, while fellow sophomore Ashli Scott (2-1) leads the staff with 16 strikeouts.
Tennessee-Chattanooga (1-4) | Friday | 8 p.m. CT
Voted to finish second in the Southern Conference, Tennessee-Chattanooga finished 2012 with a 39-16 overall mark and 20-2 in the SoCon. UTC kicked off the season at the National Training Center Invitational in Claremont, Fla., and collected its lone win of the weekend against Long Island.
Prior to the 2013 season, six members of the team were selected to the SoCon Preseason All-Conference Teams, led by senior Sara Poteat. Poteat led the SoCon with a .437 batting average in 2012 while stealing a team-best 18 bases. The second baseman garnered 65 total bases and collected 62 hits, tying for fourth in the conference. An All-SoCon First Team honoree a year ago, Poteat is right back at it in 2013. She leads her team with a .421 batting average and three doubles.
In the circle, four different pitchers threw in the first weekend. Freshman Rachel Albritton (0-1) and sophomore Taylor Deason (1-2) each tossed 12.2 innings and struck out 15 and 14 batters, respectively.
Auburn (5-0) | Saturday | 12:30 p.m. CT
This weekend’s host and SEC foe, Auburn, marks KU’s first opponent of the season that played in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Led by 17-year head coach Tina Deese, the Tigers were voted to finish sixth in the SEC. The first of two meetings between KU and Auburn this non-conference season, KU’s Smith is familiar with the Tigers after coaching against them during her three-year assistant coaching stint at LSU.
At the plate, redshirt sophomore Morgan Estell was named to the All-SEC Preseason Team and is tied for the team lead with a .500 batting average and 10 runs scored to help her team go 5-0 in its first weekend. An offensive powerhouse, Auburn hit .355 as a team in the Plainsman Invitational, which the team also hosted, outscoring opponents, 42-8.
In the circle, none of the three pitchers used in the season debut posted an ERA higher than 1.85. Freshman pitcher Lexi Davis (2-0) leads the staff with 11 strikeouts as the Tigers have 28 total entering the weekend.
Bryant University | Sunday | 9 a.m. CT
Led by 13-year head coach Lisa-Ann Wallace, Bryant will open its first season of Division I softball this weekend. After a fifth-place finish in the Northeastern Conference (20-25 overall, 11-9 NEC) in their last season of Division I reclassification in 2012, the Bulldogs will compete for an NCAA postseason berth in their first year of eligibility this year.
The Bulldogs will be led by their 2012 All-NEC selections in sophomore outfielder Madeline Velasquez and junior shortstop Aubrey Mable. The duo led the team in 2012, hitting .385 and .367, respectively.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On leading the Big 12 in batting average:
“Obviously it’s early in the season to be looking at stats, but you still have to look at them. It’s only been a weekend, but overall offensively we had a good weekend. Alex Hugo came out and was consistent with what she was doing, which as a freshman there’s a lot to be said for that. We’re excited about the start, we’re happy with it, but we want to continue to get better.”
On the defensive changes from last year looking flawless:
“I think Chaley Brickey played an outstanding shortstop. A lot of those that she snagged for outs could’ve easily been hits and probably would’ve been hits before. That definitely saved us runs. We’re very strong now; we have Alex Jones in right field – that’s huge. Overall defensively, I was really happy. Again, we need to be consistent and we need to get better, but just starting out, I was really pleased with it.”
On the speed in the lineup with the return of Alex Jones:
“Obviously, (Ashley) Newman and Elsa (Moyer) bring speed, but it’s totally different when you have Alex Jones out there. She attacks everything and plays with her whole heart and you can see that when she’s out there. She was a force for us on the bench last year and we knew when we got her back – with the players we had already – that it was going to be a huge improvement. Having her out there with everybody else is awesome.”
On Indiana State:
“They’re going to be good. They’re a strong team, they’re fast and they run a lot, which is something we didn’t see this past weekend so that’s going to be completely different for us. They’re just a solid team and they’re going to play with a chip on their shoulder. I have a feeling that they’re going to have a good year from what I’ve seen so far.”
“They are always good. That’s one of those teams that you love to play because they easily can play (at any level). They’re from a small conference, but they can beat teams in bigger conferences. So they’re a fun team to play; it’s a challenge. They’re solid all the way around, solid pitching, solid hitting; their coach (Frank Reed) is a great coach and it’s going to be another tough test with them.”
On Auburn being 5-0 and a lethal team from the SEC:
“I’m familiar with Auburn and they’ve always been solid. That team has always had great pitching and offensively, they get it done. It’s a classy program, a classy team and we’re excited to go there and play in their facility, which is beautiful.”
On facing Division I newcomer Bryant University:
“We’ve looked and found a lot of information about them. They’ve played Texas Tech quite a bit, they’ve played teams at our level, they beat Maryland last year. They’re a tough team that played a really good schedule last year. For us, every game we play is going to be a tough one. That’s the way we’re going to approach it.”
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