Cali-Bound Jayhawks Ready For Capital Classic
March 13, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Riding a season-best six-game win streak and its second pre-conference tournament title, Kansas softball will travel to California for the first time since 2010 to play in the Capital Classic, hosted by Sacramento State, March 15-17.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
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.
An audio broadcast of the Kansas at Sacramento State game can be found by logging onto HornetSports.com and selecting “Audio” from the Multimedia tab.
Vs. Fresno State (FSU leads, 4-2): The Jayhawks and Bulldogs will meet for the first time since the 2006 season. In their last four meetings, the teams have split the series.
Vs. St. Mary’s College (KU leads, 2-0): KU and the Gaels will rekindle a series that hasn’t been touched since the 1987 season.
Vs. Texas State (KU leads, 7-0): In seven previous meetings, the Jayhawks have outscored the Bobcats, 41-12, but this weekend marks their first meeting since 2008.
Vs. Sacramento State (SSU leads, 3-1): KU won the first meeting with the Hornets, but Sacramento State has won three-straight with the last coming on March 20, 2007.
- Kansas has led the Big 12 in batting average for the first five weeks of the season, but when the first NCAA stats were released (3/11), the Jayhawks’ .400 batting average also leads the country.
- KU’s nation-leading batting average is more than 25 points higher than the second-ranked USC Upstate (.374). For point of reference, the best team batting average in a season in Big 12 history was Oklahoma’s .352 in 2001. KU’s best team average is .311 (1985).
- Three of the Big 12’s top-10 batting averages this week belong to Jayhawks: senior left fielder Maggie Hull (.488, 3rd), freshman catcher Alex Hugo (.463, 5th) and sophomore utility player Maddie Stein (.415, 10th). Hull (11th) and Hugo (28th) also check in among the top-30 hitters in the NCAA.
- In sheer hits numbers, Hull (39), Hugo (37), redshirt junior Alex Jones (36) and Stein (34) rank first, second, third and fourth in the Big 12.
- Less flashy but equally as important, the Kansas defense has the best fielding percentage in the Big 12. The Jayhawks’ .980 mark is eighth in the country.
- Five weeks into the season, Hugo’s eight home runs have already tied KU’s home run leader from last season (Mariah Montgomery, 8) and she needs three more to tie the Kansas freshman record (Jessica Moppin, 11, 2003).
- After one shutout from redshirt junior Alex Jones (5-0, 1.75) and two from sophomore Alicia Pille (7-3, 2.17) over the weekend, the duo now ranks ninth and 10th in the Big 12 in ERA, respectively.
- Tracking the Jayhawks’ continued improvement, KU was hitting .325 with 124 RBIs through the first five tournaments in 2012. This season, KU has jumped up to .400 with 172 RBIs.
Fresno State (15-11) | Friday 12 p.m. CT
The second-winningest softball program in Division I, the Bulldogs were voted to finish third in their first season as members of the Mountain West Conference. Trisha Ford is in her first year as head coach, following legendary former coach Margie Wright. Of her 31 seasons as a head coach, White spent 27 of them at the helm of the FSU program where she became the winningest coach in NCAA Division I (1,457-542-3).
Despite a 33-23 mark, the 2012 season marked the first time in 31 years that FSU did not receive an NCAA Regional bid. Already in 2013, Fresno State is building its tournament resume. Last weekend, the Bulldogs hosted the Fresno State Classic and collected wins against Iowa State and Saint Mary’s College, while playing No. 6 Cal to a close 1-0 loss.
Second Team All-WAC selection, junior second baseman Brooke Ortiz, leads the team with a .361 average, while junior first baseman Stesha Brazil has a team-best six homers and 15 RBIs. Lethal on the bases, FSU has stolen 42 bases on the year, including 19 by sophomore outfielder Brenna Moss. FSU is hitting .267 as a team with 10 home runs.
In the circle, freshman right-hander Taylor Langdon (6-1) leads the staff with a 1.64 ERA, but fellow freshman Jill Compton (6-8) threw a career-high 10 strikeouts against No. 6 Cal. The Bulldogs hold a 2.79 team ERA with 71 strikeouts.
Saint Mary’s College (4-12) | Friday 4 p.m. CT
After winning the 2012 Pacific Coast Softball Conference title, the Gaels were voted to finish fourth in the 2013 PCSC Preseason Poll. Saint Mary’s is coached by eighth-year head coach Jessica Hanaseth-Rogers and enters the weekend on a seven-game skid, due in large part to a difficult schedule. Through their first 16 games, the Gaels have squared off against top-25 foes Washington, Hawaii, Oregon State, Oregon and Cal.
Ironically, the offense is led by Megan Smith – SMC’s senior catcher that comes in with a .327 batting average and a team-high .429 slugging percentage. Junior outfielder Brittany Sabatini was an All-PCSC First Team last season, but has started slowly in 2013 with a .170 batting average. The offense is hitting .173 as a unit with four home runs.
Redshirt senior Jessica Lemmon (1-3) was named a PCSC Division Pitcher of the Year in 2012 and will start the weekend with a 3.00 ERA and is tied for the team-lead with 16 strikeouts. As a staff, the Gael pitchers hold a 3.14 ERA.
Texas State (3-19) | Saturday 11 a.m. CT
Led by 12th-year head coach Ricci Woodard, the Bobcats were voted to win the Western Atlantic Conference (WAC) in their first season in the league. A year ago, Texas State was an NCAA Tournament team and completed the year 37-19. Like Saint Mary’s, Texas State’s overall record is deceiving due to the level of competition the team has taken on. The Bobcats have lost twice to top-25 Texas and Louisiana-Lafayette, once to top-25 Baylor and once to Texas Tech.
Senior second baseman Anna Hernandez was voted an All-WAC Preseason Team member and is hitting .244 through 16 starts. Also a second baseman, freshman Kellie Baker leads the team with a .316 average and six stolen bases.
Senior left-handed pitcher Anne Marie Taylor (0-3) earned a spot on the All-WAC Preseason Team and leads the pitching staff with a 4.07 ERA. As a unit, the Bobcat pitchers are giving up a 5.00 ERA and an opponent batting average of .319.
Sacramento State (12-6) | Sunday 1 p.m. CT
Sacramento State was voted to finish second in the Big Sky Conference, the first season the league has sponsored softball. In her 21st season, head coach Kathy Strahan saw her team finish 27-19 a year ago while members of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference and enters the weekend winning seven of its last eight games.
Although not a particularly powerful team – only 24 extra base hits – the Hornets boast a .282 team batting average. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Paige Martin leads the starters, hitting at a .383 clip with two triples. Senior third baseman and two-time First Team All-PCSC Coastal Division honoree Emily McCormick sets the pace with 11 RBIs and five doubles.
In the circle, sophomore right-hander Caitlin Brooks (7-1) has been dominant, throwing a complete game in each of her eight starts, striking out a team-high 51 and holding opposing teams to a .174 batting average. In 62 innings, Brooks has allowed 12 earned runs for a 1.35 ERA. The Hornets, as a team, hold a 2.11 ERA with 90 strikeouts and a .228 opposing batting average.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On the overall tournament field:
“We knew our last two tournaments going into Big 12 play were going to be our toughest, which is a really good thing because it’s a gradual progression. We know once we start Big 12 play that every single week we’ll play a ranked team. So it’s good to face these tough teams toward the end of our pre-conference schedule. We’re really excited to go out and get challenged.”
On Fresno State:
“They’re a very tough team and have always been a very tough team. They are one of those teams that when you think of college softball, you have to list Fresno State as one of the best, historically. They’re solid all the way around, they have a new coach this year (Trisha Ford) but their previous coach was the pioneer of our game (Margie Wright). It’s going to be fun to play them this weekend.”
On Saint Mary’s and Sacramento State:
“Anytime you talk about Saint Mary’s or Sacramento State, or anytime you’re playing teams in California, the level of competition is extremely high. The level of softball is unmatched in California. Texas and Florida have really good softball as well, high school-wise, but California is one of the best. You always have good talent in California. Teams are always strong, always competitive and always pose a threat.”
On Texas State:
“I’ve always loved Texas State. They’re one of those teams that’s always successful and always really strong. I think that they play a tough schedule year-in and year-out. They make Regionals pretty much every year, they’re well-coached and have great talent. Facing them will be a challenge. It’s going to be fun to see how we match up with them.”
On leading the country in batting average:
“It’s exciting. We take a lot of pride in our offense and we have since the day I stepped on campus. Every team that I’ve ever coached has led their conference in offense, so it was just a matter of time before we put the pieces together here in order to do that. It’s very exciting because the girls work extremely hard, they take a lot of pride in it, too. It’s exciting to lead the country now, but we want to continue to get better offensively so that we’re at the top at the end, too.”
On leading the Big 12 and being top-10 in the NCAA in fielding percentage:
“We pride ourselves on being fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game. Defensively, I think we have one of the top infields in the country and probably one of the fastest outfields in the country. We’ve done the best that we can with indoor facilities to work on defense. I always say it’s tougher for those cold-weather schools to be ready defensively because we don’t get a lot of reps outside, but our girls focus on fundamentals and on routine plays. They just work extremely hard and you can see that when they’re out there.”
On Alex Hugo and what she’s been able to accomplish as a freshman:
“I said it before the season started that I thought she was going to be something special and she is certainly not disappointing us. She’s phenomenal and, potentially, one of the top two or three athletes that I’ve ever coached. Her fire and passion are remarkable. It’s fun to watch her play, it’s fun to coach her and I would imagine that it’s fun to be her teammate. I would’ve loved to have had a teammate like Alex Hugo when I played. I only see her getting better and that’s scary because she’s already very good.”
After 28-consecutive road games, Kansas will open its 2013 home slate on Thursday, March 21. The Jayhawks will welcome the Missouri State Bears to Arrocha Ballpark for a doubleheader slated for 3 and 5 p.m. CT.
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