Kansas Travels to Texas for Islanders Classic
Feb. 19, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas will get its second chance at the Auburn Tigers as well as New Mexico, Southern University and tournament host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi when the Jayhawks head to Corpus Christi, Texas to play in the Islanders Classic, Feb. 21-24.
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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. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (KU leads, 1-0): The Jayhawks and Islanders have met only once on the softball field. Kansas took a 15-1, five-inning victory against TAMU-CC on Feb. 10, 2006.
Vs. Auburn (Tied, 1-1): KU won its first meeting with the Tigers on a neutral field during the 1998 season. Just three days ago (Feb. 16), Auburn tied the series with an 8-5 come from behind win against the Jayhawks. KU held the lead through the game until the Tigers rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to ultimately win, 8-5.
Vs. Southern University (First meeting)
Vs. New Mexico (KU leads, 18-3): Although the Jayhawks and Lobos haven’t faced each other since the 2007 season, the two teams have quite a history as their series dates back to 1979. Kansas has won the last 11 meetings, while New Mexico last defeated the Jayhawks, 7-2, March 13, 1984.
- KU’s game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday is not part of the Islanders Classic, but a single game between the teams before tournament play begins.
- For the second-straight week, Kansas leads the Big 12 Conference with a .369 batting average. No. 6 Texas sits in second at a .350 clip.
- Additionally, the Jayhawks have struck out just 25 times – the lowest among league teams – while also leading the Big 12 with 19 doubles.
- The veteran/rookie duo of senior Maggie Hull and freshman Alex Hugo equals a power-hitting combination. Both rank in the Big 12’s top-10 in RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Individually, Hugo’s .483 batting average ranks fourth in the Big 12, while Hull is hitting .429 and is tied for the league lead in doubles (5).
- The Jayhawks are wasting no time finding their offensive groove in 2013, leading the Big 12 through the first two weeks of the season with a .369 batting average while boasting a .536 slugging mark. Through the first two tournaments in 2012, KU was hitting .297 with a .431 slugging percentage.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-8) | Thursday 3 p.m. CT | Friday 11 a.m. CT
Voted to finish fourth in the Preseason Southland Conference poll, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is led by second-year head coach Stephanie Hughes. The Islanders come into the weekend at 2-8 on the season with wins against Memphis and Northern Colorado. Playing their first home games of the season, TAMU-CC has seen stiff competition in the early weeks of the season, falling twice to No. 6 Texas in the season-opening tournament hosted by the Longhorns. Last weekend, the Islanders were in Waco, Texas, taking on Baylor twice – who moved into the national rankings at No. 25 on Tuesday.
Facing fierce pitching thus far, the Islanders are hitting .194 as team with four home runs. Freshman utility player Ashley Elicerio leads the offense with a .333 batting average, while senior first baseman Meagan McKinney paces the power department with a team-high two homers and seven RBIs.
In the circle, TAMU-CC enters the weekend with a 5.83 ERA as a unit. The pitching staff is led by a right-handed pitching duo of sophomore Bethany Slick (1-0) and junior Constance Bradenburg (1-4). Slick leads the pitchers with a 3.36 ERA, while Bradenburg has a team-high 16 strikeouts in 32.0 innings.
Auburn (10-1) | Friday | 1 p.m. CT
The most anticipated matchup of the weekend, Kansas will have its second chance at Auburn on Friday. Led by 17-year head coach Tina Deese, the Tigers were voted to finish sixth in the SEC. In the first meeting between the two, Kansas controlled the lead until the Tigers were down to their final four outs. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Auburn caught fire for five runs for the comeback win. KU head coach Megan 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 leads the offense with a .500 batting average, four doubles and 17 runs scored. An offensive powerhouse, Auburn has four starters with slugging percentages above .640 and is hitting .318 as a team.
In the circle, the Tiger pitching staff enters the weekend with a 1.72 ERA as a unit. Freshman right-handed pitcher Lexi Davis (3-0) leads the staff with 21 strikeouts, while junior right-hander Hilary Mavromat (4-0) sets the pace for innings pitched (26.2) and ERA (1.05).
Southern University (0-10) | Saturday | 11 a.m. CT
Led by head coach Nancy Marshall in her 11th season, Southern was picked to finish ninth in the Southwest Athletic Conference. The Jaguars host Belhaven on Wednesday before heading to Corpus Christi for the weekend.
Preseason First Team All-SWAC honoree Shawntall Steamer leads the Jaguars with three RBIs. Freshman second baseman Emily Wright paces the squad with a .267 batting average as the team is hitting a combined .163.
In the circle, Southern’s pitching staff holds a 9.98 ERA. Sophomore lefty Kendyl Stevenson (0-2) has a team-high seven strikeouts.
New Mexico (5-8) | Sunday | 9 a.m. CT
Voted to finish fifth in the Mountain West Preseason Poll, New Mexico is led by third-year head coach Erica Beach. The Lobos head to Texas after an already grueling schedule that included Oklahoma, Arizona State and Nebraska. New Mexico is currently riding a three-game win streak after hosting the New Mexico Lobo Classic last weekend.
KU fans will recognize New Mexico assistant coach Christi Musser as she spent the last eight years as an assistant coach at KU, beginning in 2003 after a successful four-year playing career.
Like Kansas, the Lobos bring a mix of veterans and rookies to the plate. Freshman outfielder Mariah Rimmer sets the tone with a .350 batting average and a remarkable 11 stolen bases just 13 games into the season. Redshirt senior Kaity Ingram is right behind her with a .324 average and four stolen bases. The Lobos are hitting .304 as a team, but have struck out 91 times – compared to 25 by the Jayhawks.
In the circle, freshman left-hander Lauren Soles (2-2) was named the Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week after tossing a no-hitter against Central Michigan on Feb. 17. She leads the staff with 19 strikeouts and a .187 opposing batting average. The Lobos hold a 5.40 ERA as a staff with 51 total strikeouts.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On Texas A&M-Corpus Christi:
“In the past they have been a really strong team, they have been able to make it to regionals and do some things. We are looking forward to playing them twice, they have played some good competition thus far.”
On getting a second chance at Auburn:
“I think it will be a cleaner game from both teams. It’s going to be a good challenge for us again. I know our girls will be excited to see them another time. I thought we were disappointed with our effort throughout the entire game (the last time we played them). We would like to see how things play out when we are intense the entire seven innings. That is a great team in Auburn and we are excited to play them again.”
On Southern University:
“When I was at LSU we played Southern quite a bit and they were always a really scrappy team. They always challenged you on the base paths.”
On New Mexico:
“They are going to be a great opponent. They had a great season last year. They have a really good coaching staff and they have played some top-level competition already this season. We are excited to see them too, it’s going to be a really competitive game. They will be good across the board, so it will be a really good game for us.”
On the team’s response after losing to Auburn:
“We’re trying to get all of our players on the same page, in terms of how intense you have to be all seven innings. We have a lot of freshmen that are playing and newcomers that are stepping up and playing well for us. It is just a matter of getting on the same page in terms of that philosophy for all seven innings and I think they are starting to learn that. That is something you can tell them in practice, but they don’t really get until you go through games. I think Auburn was a great game in terms of, we played a great opponent and we really got to see that they need to step it up a little bit throughout all seven innings and not just the first four. They did respond to that on Sunday and came out strong and finished the game strong, so we are just hoping to build on that.”
On the team’s offensive ability:
“We have a solid lineup, from one to nine, we are solid. The first weekend, certain people stepped up, the second weekend, different people stepped up, but when we’re all stepping up, we are going to be tough to beat. We have known that since the fall with the players that we have. The lineup is really strong one through nine. A lot of coaches don’t expect production when you get to the bottom, but that’s not the case here. We expect the bottom of our order to produce as well and they have.”
On how the team can improve:
“We want to do a better job of executing with runners in scoring position. Looking at stats, we aren’t doing a bad job, but we’ve just had so many opportunities, because we are getting so many people on base, it seems as if we haven’t done as well. We would like to do better with it. Obviously, we want to score more runs so we’ve got to do better with runners in scoring position. Defensively, I want to make sure that we are making every single play. I think again, it’s that intensity innings one through seven. I think there is a lull at some point and we check out mentally. We’ve got to be mentally tough all seven innings on defense and be ready for the ball to come to us at any point and time. That is something that I want to see get better this weekend.”
On winning the tournament at Auburn:
“That’s a big deal. Obviously, we wanted to beat Auburn while we were there, but to come out and have the best numbers for the tournament says a lot. That was a tournament that we went into, knowing that it was going to be a huge challenge for us early in our season, with a lot of young players playing. We are relying on freshmen and sophomores to do quite a bit. It’s one of those things where it is great to do it early, but we want to keep that up. As our schedule progresses, we are still competing against really tough teams every weekend, so we are going to have an opportunity to continue to build on that against really good teams.”
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