Kansas Ready for Road Trip to Texas Tech
April 3, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A nearly three-week break from the road has the Kansas softball team ready to travel to Lubbock, Texas for the Jayhawks’ second weekend of Big 12 play against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, April 5-7.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
All three games of the series will be streamed live on TexasTech.com/allaccess free of charge. 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. Texas Tech (KU leads, 27-16): Kansas owns a 10-6 advantage against the Red Raiders in Lawrence and 12-7 in Lubbock in a series that dates back to 1984. Texas Tech has been ranked when facing the Jayhawks in each of the last two seasons and is 2-2 against Kansas in those meetings. A rainout cut the series to two games between 24th-ranked Texas Tech and KU in Lawrence in 2012, with Kansas nabbing the comeback victory in game two.
- Senior left fielder Maggie Hull was selected 11th overall by the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) 2013 College Draft on April 1, making her the highest-drafted Kansas player in program history.
- Even after facing the unforgiving Texas pitching staff, Kansas continues to lead the NCAA in team batting average, which checks in at .363 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.
- The best team batting average in a season in Big 12 history was Texas Tech’s .340 in 2011. KU’s best team average is .311, set in 1985. If the season ended today, Kansas’ .363 team average would tie for 12th in the NCAA record book with Alabama State’s 1998 squad. (NCAA record: .440, Alcorn, 1997)
- Against then-No. 8 Texas, Kansas scored four runs in games two and three of the series, marking only the second time this season that the Longhorns gave up four runs in consecutive games.
- The senior/freshman dynamic duo of Maggie Hull and Alex Hugo remain strong at the plate. Hull, the senior left fielder, leads the Big 12 and is fourth in the country with her .490 batting average. Hugo is hitting at a .434 clip, good for sixth in the league and 26th in the nation.
- Against top-10 Texas, Maggie Hull extended her hitting streak to 17 games, the longest by a Jayhawk this season. Her 51 hits lead the Big 12 and are only 16 shy of her hit total from a year ago. If she stays on this pace, Hull will churn out 87 hits in KU’s 53 games, which would break KU’s current single-season hit record of 78 (June Koleber, 1980).
- Hull’s hit streak is the longest at Kansas in the Big 12 era, breaking former Jayhawk Shannon Stanwix’s 16-game streak in 1998.
- Despite committing a season-high three errors in the first game of the Texas series (3/28), Kansas holds a Big 12-leading .979 fielding percentage, which ranks seventh in the country.
- Only former Jayhawk and current all-time RBI leader Liz Kocon (14, 2011) has hit more home runs than freshman Alex Hugo in the last six seasons for Kansas. Hugo has nine heading into the weekend and needs only two more to tie the Kansas freshman record (Jessica Moppin, 11, 2003).
TEXAS TECH (27-14, 1-2 Big 12)
Voted to finish fourth in the Big 12 Conference Preseason Poll, Texas Tech is coming off of its third-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. Like head coach Megan Smith at Kansas, Shannon Hays is in his fourth year at the helm of the Red Raiders and the coaching duo puts similar teams on the field, as well. Heading into the weekend, both offenses are hitting over .320, slugging over .500 and have 50 or more doubles – only No. 1 Oklahoma can say the same from the other teams in the league.
Like Kansas, seven of Tech’s everyday starters are hitting .300 or better, bringing the Red Raiders to a team batting average of .323. TTU leads the Big 12 in doubles (68) and comes in second with 43 home runs. On the Big 12’s top-10 hit list this season, six of the 10 come from Kansas or Texas Tech.
Sophomore right fielder Katelyn Williams leads the offense with a .387 batting average. Right behind her, hitting .386, is the first of three dangerous Red Raider seniors in centerfielder Mikey Kenney. Kenney ranks second on the team with 11 home runs, has driven in 33 and swiped 12 bases in 2013. Fellow senior, first baseman Sandy James, is the only player in the Big 12 with more doubles than KU’s Maggie Hull, as she leads the league with 14. Designated player Adriana Perez rounds out the lethal senior trio. Her 13 home runs are second in the conference, while her 45 RBIs lead the Big 12.
In the circle, both squads are also similar as the brunt of the workload falls on a sophomore, a junior and a freshman. While KU surrenders a .241 opposing batting average, Tech gives up a .230 mark. TTU’s team ERA of 2.65 ranks fifth, and KU’s 2.82 is sixth in the conference.
Sophomore right-hander Cara Custer (12-6) leads the staff with 124.0 innings pitched, holding a 2.54 ERA and 92 strikeouts in that span. Junior lefty Brittany Talley (9-5) paces the pitchers with her 2.42 ERA in 81 innings. The duo combined to hold Oklahoma State to two hits in their series opening 10-0 win over the Cowgirls. Freshman right-hander Gretchen Aucoin (5-1) is also coming on strong, striking out 52 in only 40 innings.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On facing Texas Tech:
“I’ve always enjoyed playing Texas Tech because I think that we’re very similar and when you put two teams that are similar together, you have some fun games. They are very strong offensively, they have solid pitching and that’s very similar to us. It will be a fun weekend and, of course, playing them in Lubbock is always a challenge because they’re very good at home. But we’re looking forward to playing them.”
On the challenges of pitching to a stacked lineup like Texas Tech’s:
“They certainly have more power; they hit more home runs than we do. They have a few kids that are consistent power hitters, which is always a challenge for pitching staffs to deal with but we have a potent offense, too. It’s going to be a good offensive weekend for both teams probably.”
On young pitching staffs squaring off against each other:
“Both pitching staffs have been battle tested. They’re young, but they’ve both done pretty well. We were very impressed with last year with their sophomore pitcher (Cara Custer) and Brittany Talley shut us out two years ago down in Lubbock so their pitchers have done a good job against us. We’re working on making some adjustments and having some game plans put together to make us successful.”
On KU’s newcomers getting their first weekend of Big 12 play under their belts:
“It’s always tough for freshmen when they first start Big 12 play because they certainly don’t know what to expect. Regardless of going through however many games they go through pre-conference, it’s different when you start conference play. After a weekend under our belts against one of the best pitching staffs in the conference, I think we’ll see more confidence from the freshmen and a few less nerves. I was pleased with (Alex) Hugo. She took some really good at bats and I think she’ll just get stronger as her confidence builds through conference play.”
On Maggie Hull being drafted 11th overall and what that means to the program:
“You know Maggie is a special player, but to have it recognized nationally is important. It’s important for her, it’s important for our program and for her teammates. It puts a little bit of attention on our team in that we have really good players and we are successful. It’s a good boost moving forward to know that is being recognized. It’s about players’ dreams coming true. You never think in softball that you’ll get to play professionally; there are not a lot of options for that, and to have one of our own be able to do it is not just exciting for her – it’s exciting for everybody.”
Kansas will travel to Greenville, S.C. for a non-conference series at Furman University, April 13-14. The Jayhawks will play a doubleheader on Saturday, April 13, beginning at noon (CT) and will wrap up on Sunday, April 14 at 10 a.m. CT.
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