Kansas to Host In-State Rival Wichita State in Televised Midweek Doubleheader
April 9, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. –Fresh off its first top-25 victory of the year, the Kansas softball team will play host to in-state rival Wichita State in a tape-delayed televised doubleheader at Arrocha Ballpark, Wednesday at 5/7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 11: 5 p.m. CT
Wednesday, April 11: 7 p.m. CT
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
Both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader will be televised on tape-delay by Metro Sports in the Kansas City area. The doubleheader will play twice on Thursday, first at 1 p.m. on Metro Sports and again at 7 p.m. on Metro Sports 2.
Additionally, AT&T Jayhawk All-Access will stream live audio of both games free of charge. Weston Pletcher and Kyle Larson will have the call. As always, GameTracker, located on the softball schedule page on kuathletics.com will be available to fans. Live scoring updates can also be found by following JayhawkSoftball on Twitter.
The series dates back to 1978 and Kansas leads the all-time record with Wichita State, 67-17. In 40 previous meetings in Lawrence, Kansas holds a commanding 34-6 advantage. In Wichita, the Jayhawks are 29-9 against the Shockers and lead in neutral site contests, 4-2.
KU has claimed seven of the last eight meetings, with WSU’s last victory dating back to head coach Megan Smith’sinaugural 2010 season (4/28/10). The in-state rivals have played each other at least twice for 20-straight seasons.
– Kansas received votes in one or both of the major polls for four-straight weeks until the most recent polls were released on April 3. In the NCAA RPI projections (April 9), Kansas was pegged No. 35 after defeating No. 22/25 Baylor on the road in the on Saturday. Baylor moved up to No. 37 from No. 42 after picking up two wins vs. KU.
– Also in the latest NCAA RPI projections, four of the Big 12’s nine softball schools check-in in the top 20 and four more are in the top 40. KU is 7-10 this year against top-100 RPI opponents, and 15-11 facing schools in the top half of the RPI list (No. 1-144).
– KU’s victory over nationally-ranked Baylor on Saturday gave the Jayhawks their fourth win over a top-25 team in the Megan Smith era as well as the most Big 12 wins recorded in her three-year tenure.
– Behind the plate, freshman catcher Lexi Bryant leads the Big 12 with nine runners caught stealing. That includes tossing out Baylor’s best base stealer – Kathy Shelton – for the first time this season over the weekend, making her 20-for-21 in 2012.
– On the flipside, KU’s quickness causes trouble for opposing catchers. The Jayhawks are the only team in the league to have only been thrown out once all year. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Newman added to her total at Baylor and sits in third place in the Big 12, a perfect 19-for-19 this season. Junior left fielder Maggie Hull has never been thrown out in her career and is 7-for-7 in 2012.
– As a team, Kansas’ .280 batting average ranks fifth in the league, while Maggie Hull leads the regulars hitting at a .379 clip. Hull, a Lawrence native, had a monster weekend in Waco, going 6-for-9 during the series, including her team-best sixth homer of the year. Her 44 hits this year rank fourth in the Big 12.
– On the other side of the plate, the Jayhawk pitching staff is holding its opponents to a .232 batting average. Freshman Alicia Pille is keeping hitters at a .209 mark, and is making a splash on the national scene. In the latest NCAA statistics release, the rookie’s 9.2 strikeouts per seven innings rank 18th in the NCAA, while her seven shutouts and three saves are tied for eighth-best in the country.
ABOUT KANSAS (24-12, 3-9 Big 12 Conference)
The Jayhawks have made a habit of breaking old records and setting new ones in 2012 and Saturday’s series finale at Baylor continued the growing trend. KU’s upset of No. 22/25 Baylor gave the Jayhawks at least one top-25 win in each season since Smith took over as head coach in 2010. The three Big 12 wins also marks a new high in the Smith era with 12 conference matchups still remaining.
KU enters Wednesday’s doubleheader hitting .280 as a team, with five Jayhawks posting batting averages of .300 or better. Most impressively is the emergence of new leaders as of late. Although the Jayhawks are still getting an all-conference caliber performance from team captain Maggie Hull, who leads the team with a .379 average and six home runs, the Jayhawk freshmen have been outstanding. In conference play, rookie starters Maddie Stein and Chanin Naudinare leading the Jayhawks hitting .333 and .321, respectively. Naudin leads the team with eight RBIs in Big 12 play, including her first career grand slam at Baylor on Saturday.
As they head into the midweek doubleheader, the Jayhawks are hitting an impressive .322 (97-for-301) with runners in scoring position. Captains Hull, Liz Kocon and Mariah Montgomeryfill the leadership role, driving in a combined 28 RBIs with two outs.
The Jayhawk pitchers hold a team ERA of 2.87, but own the strikeout advantage over the Shockers with 235 total strikeouts compared to 108. Freshman Alicia Pille (12-6) leads the starters with a 2.13 ERA and 137 strikeouts, good for fifth in the Big 12. The rookie’s seven shutouts mark the fourth-most all-time for a Kansas freshman and the most recorded by a Jayhawk pitcher since the 2006 season (Kassie Humphreys, 10).
ABOUT WICHITA STATE (7-29, 0-12 Missouri Valley Conference)
Under first-year head coach Kristi Bredbenner, Wichita State was selected to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll. As they adjust to a new coaching regime, the Shockers enter Wednesday night’s contests on a nine-game losing skid after suffering a sweep at Creighton last weekend.
The Shockers are hitting .229 as a team with 17 home runs. A young squad, WSU is led at the plate by a pair of freshmen. Outfielder Sydney Stuever has started all but one game and leads the team with a .317 batting average, while fellow rookie Erin Carney has a team-high seven home runs in 31 starts at third base.
In the circle, WSU’s pitching staff holds a 6.33 ERA with a .351 opposing batting average. Sophomore Sloan Anderson (3-18) leads the pitchers with a 5.95 ERA in 102.1 innings of work. Sharing the workload is junior Katie Armagost (3-8) who paces the staff with 53 strikeouts.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On facing first-year head coach Kristi Bredbenner in a transition year for Wichita State:
“I was going through that a couple of years ago, so I know what she’s going through. She’s a really good coach. We’ve played them four times since I got here, we split with them the first year and easily could’ve last year. They play really well against us, so we anticipate that they will play their best games against us on Wednesday. They have some good athletes, they’ve just had a rough go at it this year. They have a lot of talented athletes and a talented coaching staff. We’re in for a battle on Wednesday.”
On the importance of an in-state rivalry since Kansas State does not have a softball team:
“I wouldn’t say it means more (than other games), but it’s fun to have an in-state rivalry, especially with a team with as good of a tradition as Wichita State. They’ve always been a really solid softball program and it’s definitely fun to have that.”
On riding momentum from Saturday’s win into a break from Big 12 play:
“We feel like we played extremely well on Saturday and we’re hoping to ride that momentum into Wednesday. Whether it’s conference or non-conference, we face each game like it’s the most important one of the season. We’re really stressing that to our girls at practice this week as we prepare for Wichita State. It’s good to get a little bit of a break from conference, just so we can see a different team from a different league.”
On the freshmen getting better as competition continues to strengthen:
“It’s fun to see. A lot of time freshmen coming in at this level don’t get a chance their first year and they get that year to mature and learn the speed of the game at this level. Our freshmen get thrown into it from the beginning and have starting roles with us leaning on them quite a bit. You’re starting to see their maturity and how they’ve progressed throughout the year. When you get into conference and they do even better – that tells you how good they really are. They’ve worked extremely hard and you’re starting to see them come into their own.”
The Jayhawks will continue their 13-game homestand when they play host to the No. 3 Texas Longhorns in a three-game series, April 13-15. Game one is set for Friday at 5 p.m. CT.