Kansas to Open Home Slate Against Missouri State
March 19, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Coming off six weeks of pre-conference tournaments and 28-consecutive road games, the Kansas softball team will open its home schedule on Thursday in a doubleheader against Missouri State inside Arrocha Ballpark at 3 and 5 p.m.
AROUND THE BALLPARK
-Schedule magnet giveaway
-Salute to Service: $3 admission with military/police/fire/medical ID
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
Thursday will mark the debut of Pete Knutson and former Jayhawk great Liz Kocon as the 2013 AT&T Jayhawk All-Access broadcast team. Live audio of KU’s home games will be available free of charge at KUAthletics.com/allaccess.
Fans can follow the action on GameTracker, located on the softball schedule page of KUAthletics.com. Live scoring and weather updates can also be found by following JayhawkSoftball on Twitter.
Vs. Missouri State (KU leads, 64-17): With the exception of the 2011 season, the Jayhawks and Bears have squared off at least once every year since 1994 in a series that dates back to 1978. Home field advantage has played a large role in the past as the Jayhawks are 31-9 all-time against the Bears at home and 6-21 in Springfield. Since head coach Megan Smith’s arrival in 2010, the teams have played two doubleheaders and split each of them.
- Kansas continues to lead the NCAA in team batting average, which checks in at .383 this week. In 2013, the Jayhawks’ batting average has led every national (beginning 3/12) and Big 12 Conference (beginning 2/12) stats release this season.
- KU’s nation-leading batting average is 14 points higher than that of second-ranked USC Upstate (.370). 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).
- Meanwhile the numbers for dynamic duo Maggie Hull and Alex Hugo keep climbing. Hull, the senior left fielder, ranks second in the Big 12 and sixth in the country with her .495 batting average. Hugo, the freshman catcher, is right behind her with a .457 batting average, good for fourth in the league and 21st in the nation.
- Maggie Hull is looking to extend her 14-game hitting streak, the longest by a Jayhawk this season. Her 47 hits lead the Big 12 and are only 20 shy of her hit total from a year ago. If she stays on this pace, Hull was churn out 92 hits in KU’s 55 games – smashing KU’s current single-season hit record of 78 (June Koleber, 1980).
- Kansas improved its fielding percentage by a point last weekend at the Capital Classic, and the team’s .981 mark leads the league and ranks seventh in the country.
- Alex 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).
- Redshirt junior Alex Jones (7-1) won two games and suffered her first loss of the season during the Capital Classic. Her 1.53 ERA is 10th in the league and her seven victories on the year tie a career-high.
- Although the Jayhawks played their first extra-inning game of the year in their last time out (at Sacramento State), KU is definitely used to playing something other than the normal seven innings. Kansas’ 11 run-rule victories in 2013 are a school record.
MISSOURI STATE (10-12, 1-1 Missouri Valley Conference)
Voted to finish sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, Missouri State is led by 25-year head coach Holly Hesse. The Bears finished the 2012 campaign 25-26 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament. In 2013, the Bears have been unlucky with Mother Nature as six of their games have been cancelled due to weather this spring. They are scheduled to host a doubleheader against UMKC on Tuesday.
Despite the unpredictable changes in climate, MSU has collected wins against Big 12 foe Iowa State and mutual opponent Chattanooga this season. Missouri State and Kansas show similarities this season as the Bears come in hitting .301 as a team. Like Kansas, they too have a long list of starters hitting above .300, including senior first baseman Stevie Pierce. Pierce leads the team with six home runs and 24 RBIs. Junior catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel sets the tone for average as she’s hitting at a team-leading .391 clip.
Senior shortstop Kirstin Cutter and junior second baseman Ashley Brentz were selected to the preseason all-conference team as well. Both have been All-MVC first-team picks during their careers, Brentz in 2012 and Cutter in 2011. Prior to MSU’s doubleheader with UMKC on Tuesday, Cutter led the team with 22 runs scored and is a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen bases this season.
In the circle, sophomore right-hander Chelsea Jones (8-6) has handled the majority of the workload with 91.1 innings pitched in her 19 appearances. Her 33 strikeouts and 3.99 ERA lead the staff. As a unit, MSU holds a 4.27 ERA and is giving up a .296 batting average to opposing lineups.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On Missouri State already picking up wins against Iowa State and Chattanooga this year:
“They are always a tough team. We have played them four times since I have been here and we have split. They are always a really competitive team. They have a great coach and good athletes. They are always a tough game for us.”
On playing their first home game:
“It is really nice. We have really good fans that support us and give us that extra life sometimes when we need it, so we are excited to be home and showcase our new team. We look a lot different than we did last year, so it will be exciting for them to see that.”
On MSU’s style of play being similar to KU’s:
“They are a very similar team to us. That’s why it is always competitive when we play them and why they are a tough team to play. They have a good coach and players that we have watched through our recruiting trails (so we know) that they are really good athletes. It’s fun to play them.”
On consistency shown from Alex Hugo and Maggie Hull:
“(Alex) Hugo and Maggie (Hull) have been leading us and they continue to do well, but I think we are seeing players emerge through the better competition. I think Chaley Brickey is getting better and better as we face better competition so I think that is a good sign of things to come for her. I think pitching-wise we are seeing our pitchers get stronger and perform better, which has been really good to see over the last two weekends.”
Kansas will stay at home to open the Big 12 Conference season against ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns. The three-game series kicks off on Thursday, March 28, at 5 p.m.
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