Jayhawks Travel South For Houston Invitational

Feb. 21, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

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For the third consecutive weekend, the Kansas softball team will hit the road and head to warmer weather when it participates in the Houston Invitational this weekend, Feb. 22-24. The Jayhawks, who, at 8-3, are off to their best start in five years, are scheduled to play TexasState and Centenary Friday. The following day, KU will face Boston and No. 16/20 Houston before wrapping up the weekend with a game against Cal State Northridge Sunday morning. Live stats will be available for all games throughout the weekend at http://uhcougars.cstv.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/marriott-hou-classic-08.html.

About Kansas

Looking to rebound from its longest losing skid of the season at two games, Kansas takes an 8-3 record to Houston. Juniors Val Chapple and Dougie McCaulley continue to lead Kansas’ offensive output. Chapple, who is off to her best start since joining the squad for the 2006 season, is one of three players with a team-best 11 hits. She is hitting .333 and has batted in five runs for the Jayhawks. McCaulley also has 11 hits with a .333 average. Leadoff hitter Amanda Jobe leads the team with seven RBIs and is averaging .314 from the plate with 11 hits of her own. Junior pitcher Valerie George leads the KU bullpen with a 0.78 ERA in 27.0 innings of work. George and sophomore hurler Sarah Vertelka each have 24 strikeouts and have shared the starting nod with four and five starts, respectively. Freshman Allie Clark rounds out the Jayhawks’ battery having gone 16.2 innings with a 1.26 ERA. All three KU pitchers rank in the top 10 in ERA in the Big 12 Conference.

Last Time Out

Kansas was just two outs away from a 1-0 victory when UNLV’s Jaci Hull notched a two-run, walk-off home run to help the Rebels defeat Kansas 2-1 in the Jayhawks’ final contest of the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic last Sunday, Feb. 17. KU’s one run was its lowest scoring output in a game this year as they were limited to just four hits during the contest.

Sophomore pitcher Sarah Vertelka tossed a one-hitter through six innings and allowed UNLV only three hits and one walk the entire game. She faced just 21 batters. Sophomore Sara Ramirez put the Jayhawks on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the top of the second to bring freshman Brittany Hile across home plate.

Receiving Votes

For the first time since 2006, Kansas softball is receiving votes in both national polls released Feb. 19. Kansas, who is off to its best start since 2003 at 8-3, received three votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Poll and three more in the USA Today/NFCA poll. KU last appeared in the national softball polls at the conclusion of its 2006 season when KU finished No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll and received votes in the final USA Today/NFCA poll.

For Starters

At 8-3, Kansas softball is off to its best start in four years. During the 2003 season, the Jayhawks went 9-2 in their first 11 games.

KU Pitchers Top the Conference

The Jayhawks currently lead the Big 12 with a combined 0.97 ERA so far on the season. KU’s three pitchers – Valerie George, Sarah Vertelka and Allie Clark – have allowed just 11 earned runs in 11 games (79.1 innings).

UNLV Tournament Leftovers

– Kansas collected a season-high 11 hits against Oregon on Feb. 15.

– KU’s win over Oregon was only its third all-time and first victory since March 20, 1998, breaking a six-game losing streak with the Ducks.

– Three Jayhawks notched their first career home runs over the weekend – Betsy Wilson, Ally Stanton and Brittany Hile.

– Amanda Jobe had an RBI in three of the team’s five games during the UNLV tournament and has batted in at least one run in six of KU’s 11 games this season.

– Dougie McCaulley had at least one hit in all but one game over the weekend and has tallied one hit or more in eight of the 10 games she has played, including a team-high three contests with multiple hits.

– Following its win over BYU on Feb. 16, Kansas extended its win streak to five games before losing its next contest to spoil the run. KU was just one shy of its longest win streak in 2007 of six which lasted from Feb. 24-March 3.

Up Next

Kansas softball will travel to its last road tournament of the season, March 1-2, in Carbondale, Ill. for the Southern Illinois Invitational. The Jayhawks take on Northwestern and SIU Saturday. Sunday the tournament concludes with contests against Western Illinois and Bradley.