Kansas Welcomes No. 5 Texas to Arrocha Ballpark for Weekend Series
April 12, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. –Winners of three-straight, the Kansas softball team possesses a solid source of momentum as the Jayhawks prepare for the top-five Texas Longhorns to hit town for a three-game series, April 13-15.
Friday, April 13: 5 p.m. CT
Saturday, April 14: 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, April 15: 12 p.m. CT
AROUND THE BALLPARK
Friday: Blue Friday (First 100 fans wearing blue receive free popcorn) Saturday: Senior Citizen Day ($3 admission with ID), free hotdogs to the first 50 students Sunday:Bark in the Park (Dog admitted with a donation to the Lawrence Humane Society)
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
AT&T Jayhawk All-Access will stream live audio of all three games free of charge. Weston Pletcher and Kyle Larson will have the call. Fans can also follow the action on 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.
Texas and Kansas have faced each other 31 times in a series that dates back to 1997. Although the Longhorns have a stronghold on games played in Austin (12-1), the Jayhawks own the series advantage (10-6) in games played in Lawrence.
Texas has won eight of the last 10 meetings, holding a national ranking in eight of those matchups. Kansas last defeated the perennial powerhouse on April 13, 2008, 8-1.
– Kansas heads into the weekend on a three-game win streak that includes a convincing sweep of in-state rival, Wichita State and its first top-25 win of the season over then-No. 22/25 Baylor.
– The Jayhawks check in at No. 35 in the NCAA RPI projections this week (4/9). 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 recorded its fifth win via run rule in game one against Wichita State, 9-1 (5 inn.), on Wednesday. In the win, the Jayhawks pounded out four doubles in the second inning alone – tying their season-high for doubles in a game. Additionally, every run during the Jayhawks’ seven-run second inning came with two outs. With runners on and two outs, KU has been money with a .309 average and 65 RBIs.
– As a team, Kansas’ .288 batting average ranks fifth in the league. Junior left fielder Maggie Hull leads the regulars hitting at a .388 clip, good for sixth-best in the Big 12. Hull, a Lawrence native, followed a huge weekend at Baylor with a big performance against Wichita State, going 9-for-14 with six runs, three doubles and a home run in her last five games. Her 47 hits this year rank third in the Big 12.
– On the other side of the plate, the Jayhawk pitching staff is holding its opponents to a .229 batting average. Freshman Alicia Pille is keeping hitters at a .205 mark, after recording her 12th complete game victory in game one vs. WSU and her Big-12 best fourth save in the nightcap. In the latest NCAA statistics release, the rookie’s 9.2 strikeouts per seven innings rank 18th in the NCAA.
ABOUT KANSAS (26-12, 3-9 Big 12 Conference)
Prior to KU’s doubleheader at home against Wichita State on Wednesday, head coach Megan Smith discussed the importance of her team stepping up and playing focused against its scrappy, in-state rival. The Jayhawks response to that challenge were on-point in nearly every aspect. In two games, KU outscored the Shockers, 17-4, pounded out seven doubles and hit .449 as a team.
Since the start of conference play, Kansas is delivering an increasingly balanced attack from its upperclassmen to its rookies. While Maggie Hull continues her tear, freshman Chanin Naudin is hitting her stride. Since the Jayhawks were no-hit by Oklahoma All-American Keilani Ricketts on March 30, Naudin has led the team with a .619 average (13-for-21), including five doubles and nine RBIs. Fellow rookie Maddie Stein is swinging at a .421 clip, starting six of the seven games in that span.
In the circle, freshman Alicia Pille (13-6) tied KU’s win leader from a year ago using her 12th complete-game effort in the first game against WSU. Her 143 strikeouts rank fifth in the league, just five short of UT’s Blaire Luna, and her four saves are the most in the Big 12.
ABOUT NO. 5 TEXAS (32-5, 6-3 Big 12 Conference)
Picked to finish third in the Big 12 Preseason poll, the Longhorns find themselves in unfamiliar territory heading into the weekend. Texas has dropped three of its last four, including its first loss against Texas Tech in the duo’s last 10 meetings on Wednesday. Holding a No. 5 ranking in both polls, however, Texas is certainly not struggling. Currently in third place in the Big 12 standings, the Longhorns have defeated nine top-25 teams in 2012.
At the plate, Texas heads into the weekend ranked either first or second as a team in batting average (.356), slugging percentage (.544), on-base percentage (.426), runs scored (250), hits (348), RBIs (231) and triples (9). Senior second baseman Lexy Bennett leads the Big 12 with a .418 average, while her 43 RBIs rank third.
In the circle, right-handers Rachel Fox (9-0) and Blaire Luna (13-2) take on the majority of the starting workload. As a staff, Texas holds a 1.81 ERA and is dominating hitters with a .183 opposing batting average.
With ERAs of 1.67 and 1.84, respectively, the duo both check in among the top-10 in the Big 12. Luna and Pille are keeping pace with one another as Pille has one more shutout and just five fewer strikeouts on the season. Luna took the loss on Wednesday at Texas Tech.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On facing a top-five Texas team:
“I think that Texas has an overpowering offense, it’s balanced and they have speed. They can use their short game, but look at their numbers, they are having a great offensive season. They have a great hitting coach (Corrie Hill) who does an excellent job with their offense. They’re pretty dominant offensively and then you couple that with the pitching and they are solid. They have a good pitching staff, not just one ace. They are always coached extremely well. They are a classy team. We always like playing Texas, they are one of the best teams in the country and it is fun to play them.”
On Texas Tech defeating the Longhorns in their last outing:
“Texas Tech is right up there with Texas, so you expect to see that from Texas Tech. Texas is going to be tough, really tough. Like we did the last day against Oklahoma, we need to focus on us and play as hard as we can and see what happens.”
On getting contributions from veterans and rookies alike:
“The freshmen are doing really well, and it was good to see upperclassmen do well yesterday (vs. Wichita State). Maggie (Hull) and Mariah (Montgomery) both looked really good last night too. It is good to have those freshmen step up and do what they are doing, but it is good for the upperclassmen to do well as well and they are doing that right now. We have some good momentum going into the weekend and we are going to try and play as hard as we can and see what happens.”
Kansas will continue enjoying its long stretch at home when the Jayhawks welcome Iowa State to Arrocha Ballpark for a three-game series, April 20-22.