Kansas Takes Non-Conference Trip to Furman
April 11, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fresh off of a Big 12 Conference road sweep at Texas Tech, the Kansas softball team will break from league play to face Furman in Greenville, S.C., April 13-14.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
All three games of the series will be available to watch on Furman’s website, located under the Mulitmedia tab on FurmanPaladins.com. A per-game or subscription fee will apply. 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. Furman (First Meeting): Kansas and Furman have not met on the softball field, but KU head coach Megan Smith is familiar with the Paladins. Prior to her three-year stint on the coaching staff at LSU, Smith was the head coach at Western Carolina for its inaugural 2006 season. Western Carolina and Furman are both members of the Southern Conference, and Smith is 4-1 against the Paladins in her time as a head coach.
- Senior left fielder Maggie Hull‘s 20-game hit streak is the longest at KU in the modern era (*Box scores not available before 1990). The NCAA record is 43 (Sara Grazino, Coastal Carolina, 1993-94). Hull would tie five others for 18th on the NCAA record books if she extends her streak to 26-straight games.
- Freshman pitcher Kelsey Kessler threw the 23rd no-hitter in Kansas softball history, and the first since the 2007 season, in the Jayhawks’ last time out. She threw to one batter over the minimum and struck out eight in the historic feat.
- Thanks to her no-hit bid, a complete game shutout and her first career save, Kessler was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on April 9. She is the ninth KU pitcher to earn the honor and the first since Kassie Humphreys earned the nod back-to-back on April 4 and 11, 2006.
- Sophomore third baseman Chanin Naudin hit a home run in each of KU’s three games at Texas Tech. If she gets one in the series opener at Furman, she would be one of 23 players in NCAA history to hit a homer in four-straight games.
- For the ninth-straight week, Kansas leads the Big 12 in batting average as the Jayhawks are hitting .354 as a team entering the weekend. KU dropped to second in the NCAA for the first time 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’ .354 team average would rank 19th in the NCAA record book. (NCAA record: .440, Alcorn, 1997)
- 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 fifth in the country with her .482 batting average. Hugo is hitting at a .427 clip, good for fifth in the league and 36th in the nation.
- Kansas leads the Big 12 with its .978 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).
FURMAN (21-17, 7-7 Southern Conference)
Voted to finish ninth in the Southern Conference Preseason Poll, Furman enters the weekend after shutting out Charlotte on the road in both games of a doubleheader Wednesday night. The Paladins are led by first-year head coach Kyle Jamieson, who gathered success as an assistant in stops such as Fordham, Syracuse and Arkansas.
At the plate, Furman is led by sophomore outfielder Ambree Miller’s six home runs and seven stolen bases, while her .315 batting average makes her the only one hitting over .300 on the team. Sophomore second baseman Taylor Jenkins sets the tone with a team-leading 31 RBIs. Juniors Nikki Legg (CF) and Lauren Collier (RHP) were each named to the 2013 Preseason All-SoCon Team. Legg is also the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week after she batted .636 with a .667 on-base percentage and an .818 slugging percentage in five games for the Paladins.
Collier, who doubles as a designated player with a team-high 12 doubles, leads the pitching staff with a 10-8 record and a 2.02 ERA. The junior right-handed pitcher has a team-leading 81 strikeouts in 110.2 innings and threw the first shutout against Charlotte. Freshman lefty Meaghan Houston (7-5) is right behind her with a 2.35 ERA in 80.1 innings in the circle, but didn’t throw on Wednesday. Sophomore right-hander Shelby Parker (4-4) surrendered just four hits in the nightcap against the 49ers en route to the second complete game shutout for Paladins.
As a team, the Paladins are hitting .253 with 20 home runs, while the pitching staff has a combined 2.29 ERA with 184 strikeouts.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On being familiar with Furman from her time at Western Carolina:
“First and foremost, Furman is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country so that’s exciting for our girls to see a campus that they’ve never seen. Furman is also a great school. When I was a player at North Carolina, we played them and I’ve coached against them (at Western Carolina). They’re typically a strong, well-balanced team. Look at their team this year, they’re pretty good at everything – good pitching, good hitting and good defense. They have gone to the NCAA Tournament before and have done well, so it’s a program that has traditionally done pretty well. I think they’re going to be solid competition for us.”
On Furman’s experience against a tough schedule this year, including wins over Auburn and South Carolina:
“They always play good competition because they’re around the SEC and ACC schools, so they get to play them quite a bit. Us coming in is fun and another challenge for them so I’m sure we’re going to get good games from them.”
On if this weekend disrupts or helps the flow of conference play:
“I actually am excited about it. We can work on some things this weekend that maybe we saw in the last two weekends that we need some extra focus on. We can play around with our lineup a little bit offensively to see what’s going to work better so I think it’s kind of exciting. The challenge for our team will be to treat this weekend like it’s a Big 12 weekend. Naturally, you go into a non-conference weekend knowing it’s non-conference, but we want them to bring the same level of intensity that they brought last weekend against Texas Tech.”
On building on the momentum gained from sweeping Texas Tech:
“What we saw last weekend was probably our best example of a complete game effort in all three games. We’ve had glimpses here and there of certain aspects of our game that have done well, but before last weekend, none of them had come together as consistently as it did those three games. So we just want them to take that same approach this weekend and have that same intensity level. We saw our girls working together as a team in every aspect and we want to see that again.”
On Kelsey Kessler being named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week:
“What a well-deserved honor for Kelsey. She pitched better than any pitcher that I’ve had over one weekend, I’d have to say. It was phenomenal. It was good that she got the credit she deserved and that the Big 12 recognized her. One of the great things that she said to assistant coach (Abbie) Sims, is that ‘this is not going to be the highlight of my career’. So that says a lot about where we’re going and how she’s going to help us get there. We’re really proud of her and we hope that she continues to bring that same level of confidence and consistency the rest of the year.”
On Maggie Hull’s 20-game hit streak being the best in KU’s modern day history adding to several program firsts in Smith’s time at Kansas:
“That is impressive for Maggie. She continues to impress us with things and hopefully that doesn’t end and she has more to impress us with for the rest of the year. When you’re rebuilding a program and trying to reestablish yourself, it’s baby steps. Sometimes it’s the little things that give you so much pride. It’s been a process and a lot of these girls have gone through that process with me and assistant coach (Adam) Roorbach. They’ve put a lot of work, sweat, blood and tears into this – as have we – and it’s nice to see these girls improving and becoming great softball players. These records and fun little facts that we have is just an illustration of all the hard work we’ve put in for the last four years.”
Kansas is on the road for another non-conference matchup on Wednesday, April 17. The Jayhawks will travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on No. 22/18 Nebraska at 6 p.m.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.