Kansas Travels To Oklahoma State For Pivotal Series
April 17, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sitting at fourth in the Big 12 Conference standings, the Kansas softball team will travel to Stillwater, Okla., for a three-game series against sixth-place Oklahoma State, April 19-21.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
All three games will be live streamed on OkState.TV for a subscription fee. In addition, fans can follow the action on GameTracker, located on the softball schedule page of KUAthletics.com. Live scoring and updates can also be found by following JayhawkSoftball on Twitter.
Vs. Oklahoma State (Oklahoma State leads, 64-39): This weekend, Oklahoma State will become KU’s most-played opponent as the duo has faced off 103 times prior, currently tied with Missouri for most all-time meetings. The Jayhawks and Cowgirls have squared off at least once every year since 1978. Kansas won the series two games to one in 2012, but Oklahoma State holds a 21-10 advantage in Stillwater.
- Weather stole both teams’ opportunities at quality midweek matchups. Kansas was slated to play at No. 21/18 Nebraska on Wednesday and Oklahoma State was due to face No. 1 Oklahoma on the same evening before storms canceled both.
- For the 10th-straight week, Kansas leads the Big 12 in batting average as the Jayhawks are hitting .349 as a team entering the weekend. That mark ranks fourth in the NCAA.
- Senior left fielder Maggie Hull is tied with OU’s Lauren Chamberlain for the league’s lead in batting average (.472).
- Wednesday’s cancelation is the third game KU has lost to weather this season. The other two were a doubleheader against Missouri State (3/21) that was called off due to snow.
- Maggie Hull ended her 20-game hit streak in the series opener at Furman (4/13). Her historic stretch was the longest at KU in the modern era (*Box scores not available before 1990). After breaking the streak, she doubled in the next two games.
- Sophomore third baseman Chanin Naudin has a home run in four of KU’s last six games as she hit a home run in each of KU’s three games at Texas Tech and another in the series finale at Furman.
- If the season ended today, Kansas’ .349 team average would rank first in Big 12 history as the current record is held by Texas Tech (.340, 2011). KU’s best team average is .311, set in 1985. (NCAA record: .440, Alcorn, 1997)
- The dynamic duo of Maggie Hull and freshman catcher Alex Hugo remain in the top five in the Big 12 in batting average. Hull leads the Big 12 and is 11th in the country with her .472 batting average. Hugo is hitting at a .429 clip, good for fourth in the league and tied for 32nd in the nation.
- Kansas leads the Big 12 with its .979 fielding percentage, which ranks fifth in the country.
- Hugo has nine home runs heading into the weekend and needs only two more to tie the Kansas freshman record (Jessica Moppin, 11, 2003).
OKLAHOMA STATE (24-20, 2-7 Big 12)
Led by head coach Rich Wieligman in his seventh year, Oklahoma State was voted to finish one spot ahead of Kansas (fifth) in the Big 12 Preseason Poll. The Cowgirls enter the weekend on a six-game slide, however, suffering sweeps on the road to Iowa State and No. 20 Baylor in their last two weekends. OSU’s conference victories come from clinching the opening series of conference play from Texas Tech.
At the plate, Oklahoma State is hitting .260 as a team with 26 home runs and a conference-low 24 stolen bases. Junior first baseman Tarah Ettinger leads the team with a .333 batting average, seven home runs and 31 RBIs. Senior catcher Tamara Brown is right behind her at .328 with 10 doubles and a team-high 27 runs scored. Freshman third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson has a team-leading 12 doubles and sophomore outfielder Shelby Davis joins her in giving the Cowgirls more than just upperclassmen threats. Davis, an All-Big 12 honoree in 2012, brings speed with 11 stolen bases.
Senior right-hander Kat Espinosa (13-13) is back to lead the Cowgirls in her senior season. On nearly every top-10 career list at Oklahoma State, Espinosa makes up half of OSU’s one-two punch in the circle. Junior righty Simone Freeman (11-7) is the other and leads the two-person staff with a 2.22 ERA. Espinosa trails only slightly with a 2.24, but has handled the majority of the workload in Big 12 play. The senior took all three losses at Baylor as Freeman threw only the final inning of the three-game series. Espinosa has thrown 48 of OSU’s 59 innings in league play and 178 overall, which leads the Big 12 by more than 30 innings.
Together the duo is holding batters to a .208 batting average and is sitting at 318 strikeouts – over 100 more than their opposing pitchers this year. Espinosa (172) and Freeman (146) rank fourth and sixth in the Big 12 for strikeouts heading into the KU series.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On facing Oklahoma State:
“They have always been a very tough team with very strong pitching. Both of their pitchers have done very well (in general) and against us. They’re a solid team overall and we always play them close.”
On the importance of this series:
“Every Big 12 series from here on out is going to be a big series for us, but this definitely is a big one. Our team and Oklahoma State are very evenly matched. We have kind of the same mentality that we had going into Texas Tech in that this is going to be a fun weekend.”
On Kat Espinosa being a mainstay for the last four years:
“She’s good. We’re ready for her to graduate because she’s done a very good job during her career at Oklahoma State. They have really good pitching that keeps them in every game and we anticipate that we’ll see really strong pitching from both of them (Simone Freeman and Kat Espinosa) this weekend.”
On the cancellation of the Nebraska game throwing off this week’s routine:
“No, it’s not throwing us off, but we’re disappointed. We really wanted to play Nebraska. I thought that it would’ve been good to get us ready for Oklahoma State, but you can’t argue with the weather. So now we’re ready to get back to another Big 12 series.”
On weather being a factor (practice and games) more this year than any of her four years:
“It’s been unfortunate. We’ve been inside way more this year than we have in any other year – more during the season, too. Before, it’s been bad in January, but this year the cold and the rain has definitely messed with our practice plan and caused us to come inside more than we would like.”
On leading the Big 12 in fielding percentage despite more time practicing inside:
“It says a lot about the fundamental work we put in during the fall. We’re fundamentally sound. So, even if we can’t get outside, the fundamentals are right when we get to game time. I think you’re seeing that when we’re successful defensively and all across the board.”
Kansas will make its third attempt at a midweek game on Tuesday, April 23, when the Jayhawks travel to Kansas City, Mo., for a doubleheader at UMKC. Game times are set for 5 and 7 p.m.
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