Looking back at Kansas Softball's Historic Run

March 14, 2012

Written by Matt Franzblau, Kansas media relations student assistant

There may be two decades and a generation that separate the 1992 Kansas softball squad from the 2012 team, but the two share a unique bond in KU softball lore as the only teams to win 17 or more games in a row during a season. Not satisfied with just a share of the record books, the 21st century Jayhawks out did their 20th century counterparts this past weekend with their 18th, 19th and 20th straight wins as they captured first place honors at the Osprey Classic in Jacksonville.

Below is a unique look at the 2012 Jayhawk softball team compared to the 1992 team that won the Midwest Region and made it all the way to the Women’s College World Series.

2012 (20 straight victories, Feb. 11 — March 11)
After starting the 2012 campaign with two straight losses, Megan Smith’s bunch has steamrolled over their opponents, with a total of 20-straight wins in exactly 30 days. The Jayhawks began their historic run with an offensive powered 11-0 victory over Southeastern Louisiana in the Southeastern Classic. Kansas would take two more in that tournament and use their momentum to prove victorious over Middle Tennessee State, Charlotte and Stony Brook for their first tournament crown of the season at the Charlotte Classic (Feb. 17-19). Tack on another five wins at the Seahawk Classic (Feb. 24-26), an additional three in the Charleston Southern Tournament (March 2-3), and last weekend’s five W’s at the Osprey, and KU now has four first place tournament finishes to go along with their 20 wins.

“Having the longest winning streak is such a huge accomplishment and we all feel very proud that we are a part of it,” Coach Smith said. “The girls were very excited and emotional after the 20th win because they really understood how special this is.”

Smith has seen her team average six and a half runs per game during that stretch, while only allowing KU opponents an average of one and a half runs each time they stepped out on the diamond. Kansas pitchers have combined for a total of eight shutouts during that time, while compiling a five-run margin of victory for each contest. The 2012 Jayhawks have also scored in double-digits three times so far this season and are hitting at a .338 clip during their month-long streak. All of the 20-consecutive victories have come against non-conference opponents, but the Jayhawks will get their first conference test this weekend against Missouri.

“We really had a great balance because we had speed, offensive consistency, great pitching performances, and solid defense,” Smith thought. “More importantly than those things, they showed a lot of fight and heart. They fought back in several games and they performed well in clutch situations.”2012 Jayhawks

1992 (17 straight victories, March 31 – April 16)
Kansas started what would become the program’s longest winning streak for two decades, back on March 31, 1992, with a doubleheader sweep of in-state foe, Pittsburg State. The Jayhawks, under the guidance of then-head coach Kalum Haack, then took another two from another Sunflower State rival, the Shockers from Wichita State on April 1. Following those four non-conference games, Kansas claimed two games over Big Eight opponents, Oklahoma State and Nebraska, and then one from Oklahoma, Iowa State and another ‘W’ over host OSU in the Cowgirl Classic. Throw in two non-conference victories against Creighton, and one over Oklahoma City and Georgia State and KU had 17 wins in exactly 17 days. Their streak would be halted by the Cyclones in the final game of the Cowgirl Classic as they fell 3-1 to ISU on April 18.

“We had great team chemistry,” then junior pitcher Jill Bailey said. “Coach Haack emphasized defense. He preached to us that if our opponents do not score any and we squeeze out one, then we are going to squeeze out one, meaning a victory.”

1992 Jr. backstop Erin WahausDuring their torrid run, the ’92 ‘Hawks averaged three and a half runs a game, while only giving up one and a half. Their 3.5 runs per contest are three less than their 2012 counterparts, while their 1.5 runs allowed per game average is the exact same as this year’s team. Shutouts accounted for 53 percent (9/17) of the 20th Century team’s 17 straight victories, compared to just 40 percent (8/20) during 2012.

“It’s hard to believe that it has lasted this long,” Bailey said. “I am obviously very proud of that but I am also proud of the team that eclipsed our record as well.”

The 1992 Kansas softball team would win five more once its 17 win streak was snapped, making them winners in 22 of 23 games from March 31 – May 1. The 17 wins was not the first double-digit win streak for the eventual NCAA Midwest Regional Champs, as they reeled off 13 against non-conference opponents from March 13 – March 27, 1992. That team would finish the season with a final record of 45-10 and an .818 winning percentage. Their 13 and 17 game winning streaks would propel them into the NCAA Regionals and have them go as far as the Women’s College World Series, where they would be eliminated by eventual tournament runner up Arizona, 1-0 in a 17-inning thriller.

Looking Ahead…
With already one 20-game win streak under their belt, Smith is optimistic of her team’s chances this season as they enter Big 12 play.

“We needed to have a strong pre-season to give us a good base going into conference,” the third year head coach explained. “We definitely have set ourselves up well going into big 12 play; now we have to go out and compete hard every pitch of every conference game.”

Her 2011 squad reached 20 wins at almost exactly the same juncture last season (March 12), but did not have a win streak longer than 12 games as they approached their first conference series, which was also against Missouri. The Tigers swept KU in a two-game set at Arrocha Ballpark on March 23 last year, and the Jayhawks will be seeking revenge this time around. They will look to return the favor when they travel to Columbia for a three game match-up against Missouri, starting Friday, March 16 in Columbia.

1992 Kansas Jayhawks
By the numbers…

KU Team 1992 2012
Winning Streak 17 20
Streak Timeline March 31-April 16 Feb. 11-March 11
Runs Scored Avg. 3.5 6.5
Runs Allowed Avg. 1.5 1.5
Margin of Victory 2 5
Shutouts 9 8
Record at end of Streak 36-5 20-2