Jayhawks To Open Big 12 Play at Texas A&M
March 23, 2006
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Kansas softball returns to the mainland to open Big 12 Conference play at #15 Texas A&M (21-9) Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (noon) in College Station, Texas. The Jayhawks bring a 15-14 record into the weekend series after going 2-2 at the Bank of Hawaii Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii, last week. The Jayhawks have won 10 of their last 16 games and will return home March 30 after a non-conference doubleheader at UMKC Tuesday. The Jayhawks are slated to play 55 regular-season games this year with only 20 of those contests in Lawrence.
Live Gametracker is available for all KU games on kuathletics.com, the official web site of Kansas Athletics. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Cox Sports Television (check local listings for areas).
KANSAS QUICK HITS
-Kansas returns eight letterwinners and six starters in 2006, including four All-Big 12 selections in Destiny Frankenstein (Sr., SS), Jessica Moppin (Sr., 2B), Heather Stanley (Sr., OF) and Serena Settlemier (Sr., P/DP).
-Three positions in the starting lineup are filled by freshmen — Val Chapple (3B), Erika Simington (C) and Stevie Crisosto (1B/OF).
-Settlemier holds the KU all-time home runs record with 34. Frankenstein is close behind with 30 for her career while Moppin (28) and senior Nettie Fierros (15) also rank in KU’s career Top 10.
-Head coach Tracy Bunge is just three wins away from her 300th victory at Kansas and 11 away from her 400th career coaching victory.
-KU has made nine trips to the NCAA Regionals in the last 25 years and gone three times under Bunge in the past nine seasons (most recently in 2005).
-The Jayhawks broke two program records last season when they hit 54 home runs and boasted a .973 fielding percentage. KU already has 30 homers through 29 games this season.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
TEXAS A&M… The Aggies are coming off a Big 12-opening win at Baylor Wednesday and an impressive showing at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., this past week. Rocky Spencer hit her second homerun of the season in the top of the eighth to lead #15 Texas A&M (21-9, 1-0) to its first Big 12 win of the season, 4-3, over No. 19 Baylor (18-13, 0-1) Wednesday in Waco, Texas. Prior to Wednesday’s win, A&M went 5-1 in the Judi Garman Classic, knocking off ranked opponents #1 Arizona, #14 Washington and #15 Oklahoma before falling to #4 Texas, 1-0, in the championship game. Of A&M’s nine losses this season, six were to ranked opponents.
Sophomore Megan Gibson leads the Aggies at the plate with a .311 batting average. Gibson has hit four doubles and eight home runs for 20 RBI this season. Gibson is also toting a team-best .689 slugging percentage. In the circle, Gibson has a 2.51 ERA, having thrown 78 innings and allowing 35 runs, 28 earned.
The Aggies hold a 38-20 lead in the all-time series against KU and have won the last eight meetings with the Jayhawks, dating back to a 6-4 loss on April 6, 2002. A&M claimed the regular-season Big 12 Championship in 2005 and was honored with league coach (Jo Evans) and player of the year (Amanda Scarborough) awards and finished the season 47-10 overall in the NCAA Super Regionals.
UMKC… After a postponed doubleheader on Tuesday night courtesy of an early-spring dose of wintry temperatures, UMKC returns to action on the diamond Thursday night against Missouri State. The Kangaroos (4-16) and Bears met earlier this season in the Missouri State Spring Classic, with the Bears coming out on top by a 4-0 count. Thursday’s game kicks off a busy six-day stretch for the Kangaroos, as they host defending Mid-Con Conference champion Centenary in a pair of twinbills on Friday and Saturday before bringing in Kansas and Saint Louis on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, respectively.
Senior Eryn Knecht leads the Kangaroo offense with a .289 batting average and 10 hits on the season. Knecht was named Mid-Con Player of the Week March 20 for her three home-run series against Northern Colorado last week.
2006 BANK OF HAWAII INVITATIONAL LEFTOVERS
Despite two rain outs, Kansas finished 2-2 in the 2006 Bank of Hawaii Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii … The Jayhawks posted wins over Longwood (4-3) and host Hawai’i (3-1) and fell to #16 Northwestern, 1-0 and 6-2 … Freshman Val Chapple led the KU offense with four hits (two doubles) and a .333 batting average … Senior Serena Settlemier hit two home runs to bring her season total to a Big 12-leading dozen and her career mark to a KU-best 34 … Settlemier and junior Kassie Humphreys split time in the circle for KU and ended the tournament with a combined 2.33 ERA and 25 strikeouts through 27 innings of work.
Kansas leads the Big 12 in home runs this season with 30 dingers through 29 games and will most likely shatter the school record… again. KU hit 54 homers in 55 games in 2005, setting a new Jayhawk program best. Seniors Serena Settlemier (12 homers) and Destiny Frankenstein (nine) account for 21 of the 30 blasts and hold the KU all-time career records at 34 and 30, respectively.
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