Kansas Brings in Top-25 Baylor for Big Series
April 25, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – On the heels of a brilliant pitching performance and a strong offensive display in its first midweek doubleheader of the season, the Big 12 Conference’s fourth-place Kansas gathered momentum to host third-place Baylor at Arrocha Ballpark, April 26-28.
AROUND THE BALLPARK
Friday: Freebie Friday, prize winners will be drawn every inning
Saturday: Bark in the Park, fans can bring their furry friends with a donation at the gate to the Lawrence Humane Society
Sunday: Jayhawks for a Cure Orange Game, fans wearing orange will receive $3 admission
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
A live audio stream of all three games will be available on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access free of charge. Pete Knutson and former Jayhawk softball player Liz Kocon will have the call. 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 KUSoftball on Twitter.
Vs. Baylor (Kansas leads, 24-20): Kansas and Baylor will square off in their 45th all-time meeting on Friday evening, in a series that dates back to 1981. Ironically, the only place that the Jayhawks don’t own a winning record over the Bears is in Lawrence as KU is 6-8 against BU at home. In Waco, Kansas owns a 12-10 advantage and a 6-2 mark on neutral fields. Baylor owns the edge recently, winning seven of the last 10 meetings. Including this weekend’s series, the Bears have been nationally ranked for 10-straight games when facing the Jayhawks.
- After canceling two previous attempts, the Jayhawks played their first midweek games of the season Wednesday night. KU took advantage, sweeping UMKC, 11-0 and 4-0.
- For the 11th-straight week, Kansas leads the Big 12 in batting average as the Jayhawks are hitting .350 as a team. No team other than KU has led the league this year and that mark ranks sixth in the latest NCAA stats (4/22).
- With her three-run homer against UMKC (4/24), Alex Hugo broke the Kansas freshman home run record with 12 in 2013 (previously Jessica Moppin, 11, 2003).
- Senior left fielder Maggie Hull also made history against UMKC, driving in two runs to tie her for the Kansas career RBI crown. One more RBI this weekend would break the record currently held by former Jayhawk and current softball color analyst Liz Kocon (135).
- Hull also continues her season-long reign as the Big 12 batting average leader, hitting at a .467 clip entering the weekend. With 10 regular-season games remaining, Hull is well on pace to break her own KU batting average record (.409, 2012).
- If the season ended today, Kansas’ .350 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.
- The dynamic duo of Maggie Hull and freshman catcher Alex Hugo rank in the top-three in the Big 12 in batting average. Hull’s Big 12-best .467 mark sits only two spots above Hugo’s .426 clip, which is good for third in the league and tied for 32nd in the nation.
- Hull, Hugo and sophomore catcher/designated player Maddie Stein enter the weekend with 40, 42 and 44 RBIs, respectively. The trio marks the first time in program history three different players have recorded 40+ RBIs in the same season.
- Kansas leads the Big 12 with its .980 fielding percentage, which ranks fifth in the country.
No. 21/14 BAYLOR (35-12, 6-5 Big 12)
Voted to finish third in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, Baylor is holding true to form as the team heads to Lawrence behind No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas in the conference standings – and one spot in front of Kansas. In his 13th season at the helm of the Baylor softball program, head coach Glenn Moore celebrated his 500th career victory with a win over No. 20 Hawaii earlier this season.
Baylor also played a midweek contest, splitting a doubleheader with Houston on Tuesday. In Big 12 play, the Bears swept Oklahoma State and Iowa State, while suffering a sweep to No. 1 Oklahoma. No. 7 Texas took the first two games of the season series with Baylor in March and the series finale is scheduled to be the final game of the regular season.
At the plate, Baylor is hitting .289 as a team. Although the Bears don’t possess the same power threat as other Big 12 foes, with a league-low 24 home runs, they are known for changing games with their speed. Only Texas has more than BU’s 86 stolen bases, which ranks 23rd nationally at nearly two per game.
Senior center fielder Kathy Shelton and sophomore right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann represent a lethal combination. Each of them are hitting .377 to lead the team, while Shelton has a team-high 32 stolen bases and Thumann has 28 swipes to her credit. Thumann also paces the offense with 10 doubles and three triples. Freshman third baseman Sarah Smith adds a new face to Baylor’s veteran team. Ranked the No. 73 recruit in ESPN’s Top 100 – the same list that ranked KU’s Chaley Brickey No. 22 – Smith leads the team with five homers. Fellow rookie, redshirt freshman Linsey Hays, has driven in a team-high 28 RBIs.
Aside from speed, Baylor makes its name in the circle and checks in at 11th in the NCAA with a 1.77 team ERA. After suffering an ACL tear last season, redshirt junior lefty Whitney Canion (19-6) has returned as a work horse in the circle, allowing just 35 earned runs in 155.2 innings for a 1.57 ERA. An All-American herself, Canion ranks third behind fellow All-America pitchers Blaire Luna and Keilani Ricketts in the Big 12 with 213 strikeouts.
Freshman right-hander Heather Stearns (10-4) is a solid alternative to Canion, surrendering 23 earned runs in 97.2 innings of work with 130 strikeouts to her credit.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On Baylor posing multiple threats with speed and pitching:
“With Baylor, I think you see one of the most balanced teams in the country. They have unbelievable pitching. Their entire pitching staff is doing really well. Their offense is balanced, they have power and unbelievable speed and they have solid defense.”
On Whitney Canion coming back from an ACL tear:
“I think you have to respect Whitney Canion. She’s one of the best pitchers in the country and she’s had to battle a lot of adversity. You respect someone that can go through what she has gone through and come back strong and come back successful. We certainly have a lot of respect for her and we know that she is going to give us a tough time this weekend.”
On Baylor’s speed:
“A lot of teams in our conference have speed, but that has always been one of Baylor’s strong suits. They do a really good job base running. They are really aggressive and like to steal. That is something that we have to be aware of and be on our toes defensively.”
On playing a midweek match-up before the weekend series:
“It is nice to play midweek, because it is getting the live at bats and the game-like situations during the week. It is hard to simulate that at practice and have it be realistic, so it’s good to get out there and play, especially at home. We are not used to being out on our field, because we have to be inside quite a bit with the rain and weather. It was nice to be outside and have our fans there. I think it was a great warm up for the weekend.”
On the significance of hosting the Jayhawks for a Cure Orange Game:
“It (kidney cancer) is one of those things that I want people to be aware of. Cooper (son) and I have been going through a tough time and it is nice to pay some respects to Paul and to honor him with this game and to let Cooper be a part of that. He is really excited about throwing out the first pitch, and that is going to be fun to watch. Our team went through it with me, so it’s a big day for them, too.”
Kansas will continue its homestand on Wednesday, May 1, when the Jayhawks welcome Wichita State to Arrocha Ballpark for a single game at 6 p.m.
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