Jayhawks Set for Senior Weekend, Host No. 24 Texas Tech in Final Home Series

April 26, 2012

Kansas vs. No. 24 Texas Tech
Freshman Alicia Pille’s 17 wins marks the most by a Jayhawk freshman since 2001.
April 27-29, 2012
Location Lawrence, Kan.
Friday 5 p.m. CT
Saturday 2 p.m. CT
Sunday 12 p.m. CT
Live Stats Kansas GameTracker
Live Audio AT&T Jayhawk All-Access
Game Notes Kansas
Game Notes Texas Tech

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Only six games remain in the Kansas softball regular season, and the last three at Arrocha Ballpark will match the Jayhawks up against the No. 24 Texas Tech Red Raiders, April 27-29.

Friday, April 27: 5 p.m. CT
Saturday, April 28: 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, April 29: 12 p.m. CT

Friday: Blue Friday (first 100 fans wearing blue receive free popcorn)
Saturday: Senior Day (ceremony held on the field following the game)
Sunday: Brunch in the Park (Breakfast for $1/person, kids can make their own pancakes)

AT&T Jayhawk All-Access will stream live audio of this weekend’s games free of charge. Kyle Larson will have the call. Fans can also follow the action on GameTracker, located on the softball schedule page on kuathletics.com. Live scoring updates can also be found by following JayhawkSoftball on Twitter.

Kansas owns the all-time series record against Texas Tech, 26-15. Both teams hold the respective series advantage on their home fields as the Jayhawks are 9-5 against the Red Raiders in Lawrence and trail TTU in games played in Lubbock, 7-12. On neutral turf, KU has won five of eight meetings.

In 2011, the teams split the season series as Kansas won game one, 9-5, but fell in game two, 0-10 (5). The Red Raiders have been nationally ranked in each of the three seasons Kansas head coach Megan Smith has faced them.

– Kansas (30-16, 5-13) swept UMKC on Wednesday, to push the Jayhawks over the 30-win plateau for the second-straight year during head coach Megan Smith’s three years at the helm. The Jayhawks went 31-22 last season.

– All five Jayhawk seniors will be recognized on the field following Saturday’s 2 p.m. game. Liz Kocon, Marissa Ingle, Kelsey Alsdorf, Leah Daiber and Ashley Spencer comprise the 2012 senior class.

– In their last Big 12 action against Iowa State, the Jayhawks hit at an impressive .418 clip as a team to take the series. In the team’s most recent action, KU’s lineup hit a collective .300 in the doubleheader against UMKC. Heading into the weekend, KU ranks third in the Big 12 with a .297 team batting average. Only top-10 teams Texas (.338) and Oklahoma (.316) rank higher as a team. In Big 12 play alone, Kansas’ team average (.249) checks in at fourth in the league.

– On Wednesday, KU collected its eighth win of the season when the opponent scored first. UMKC scored two runs in the top of the first inning during the nightcap (4/25), but KU came back to win. The Jayhawks are 8-10 in games that the opposing team beat them to the scoreboard.

– The Jayhawks moved to No. 43 in the NCAA RPI projections this week (4/24). Five of the Big 12’s nine softball schools check-in in the top 25 and all but one school (ISU, 112) is in the top 45. KU is 8-13 this year against top-100 RPI opponents, and 15-15 facing schools in the top half of the RPI list (No. 1-144).

– Junior left fielder Maggie Hull snapped the team’s longest hit streak of 12 games in the opener against UMKC (4/25), but rebounded in a hurry with a 3-for-3 effort in the nightcap that included her seventh home run of the season. The junior captain leads the Big 12 in batting average both overall (.424) and Big 12-only action (.407). If the season ended today, Hull would crush KU’s previous single-season batting average record of .400 set in 1979.

– On the other side of the plate, the Kansas pitching staff is holding opponents to a .231 batting average and holds a 3.08 ERA as a unit. KU’s pitchers have struck out 277 batters this season.

– Leading the staff, freshman Alicia Pille was outstanding against the `Roos (4/25), collecting a complete-game victory in game one and earned the win in relief in game two for her 16th and 17th wins of the year. That ties her for third all-time among KU rookies (Stephani Williams, 1991). No Jayhawk has won 17 games since Val George recorded 18 wins in 2008.

ABOUT KANSAS (30-16, 5-13 Big 12)
The Jayhawks kept themselves on path to their goal of an NCAA Tournament bid on Wednesday, sweeping the UMKC Kangaroos. Sitting at No. 43 in the RPI, Kansas has the opportunity to move up as its final two opponents are Texas Tech (RPI: 21) and Texas A&M (RPI: 11). Heading into their last six games, the Jayhawks have wins against top-50 RPI teams Baylor (33), Wisconsin (47) and two against Oklahoma State (31).

Consistent offensive production is powering the Jayhawks’ quest for a postseason appearance. Two starters are hitting above .300, while two more are hitting above .400 – including Big 12 batting leader Maggie Hull. The junior left fielder is on fire, hitting safely in 13 of the last 14 games (27-for-48). With six games remaining, the junior needs four runs and 15 hits to become Kansas’ all-time single season leader in both categories.

Hull is one of several Jayhawks having an astonishing April. This month, KU is hitting .329 as a team since April 1, which includes games against Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas – all nationally-ranked. All but three starters are hitting above .300, while Hull and freshmen Maddie Stein and Chanin Naudin have been particularly explosive.

Hull leads the team this month, hitting .563 with 14 runs, six doubles and two homers. In a lethal mix of veteran success and rookies finding their groove – Naudin and Stein are right behind her hitting .488 and .455, respectively, this month. Naudin is pacing the team with 14 RBIs in April, while all four of Stein’s homers have come within the last week. The rookie duo has driven in 27 runs since April started.

In the circle, Kansas has received an equally impressive April out of freshman Alicia Pille (17-9). With 59.1 innings pitched, she’s carried the majority of the workload, but is 6-4 with seven complete games to her credit this month. Her 162 strikeouts are fifth in the Big 12, while her four saves are tied for ninth in the NCAA.

ABOUT NO. 24 TEXAS TECH (37-13, 10-8 Big 12)
Picked to finish right above Kansas in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ poll, Texas Tech is currently fifth in the league’s standings after taking series against top-25 Missouri and Baylor in two of the last three weeks.

Also led by a third-year head coach in Shanon Hays, Tech has already reached the 30-win mark for the third-straight year, marking the first time since 1997-99 that the program has done so. After opening the year 1-4 at the Arizona State Kajikawa Classic, Tech has won 36 of 45 games since that point, with wins in nine of 17 contests against ranked opponents.

At the plate, the Red Raiders are led by junior designated player Adriana Perez, who arrived at Tech following a two-year stint at Antelope Valley College. The transfer has made an immediate impact at the designated player position, leading the team with a .372 average and 15 home runs. As a team, TTU is hitting at a .291 clip with 60 home runs, second only to No. 5 Oklahoma in the Big 12.

In the circle, underclassmen are leading a staff that holds a 2.65 ERA with 218 total strikeouts. Sophomore lefty Brittany Talley (10-4) holds the slight ERA advantage, accumulating a 2.32 mark in 25 appearances, but freshman Cara Custer (23-8) shoulders much of the pitching duties with 181.1 innings of work this season. Her 23 wins are second only to OU All-American Keilani Ricketts.

HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On posting back-to-back 30-win seasons in her first three years at Kansas:
“We’ve shown huge improvements each year. When you’re taking over a program and trying to build something special that’s what you need to see. You need to see improvement every year. We’re starting to see that. We’ve done a lot of great things this year and still have a lot of great things to do, but getting to 30 wins is important. It’s kind of that marker you look for. We just want to see improvement every year and we’re seeing that.”

On facing TTU head coach Shanon Hays, also in his third year of rebuilding a program:
“Both of us have had to come in and work really hard to get players to buy into our system, and both teams are doing that. Texas Tech has been very successful. They are a really well-coached team and they play really hard. I feel like our players are much the same, they work really hard and buy into what we’re doing. In that respect, we’re definitely similar.”

On addition of key players Adriana Perez and Cara Custer bringing a new look to TTU:
“They’ve added some good players, but they were really good last year so what they’re doing (as a team) this year is what they did last year. We anticipate a great offense coming in to Lawrence. We’re going to have to play really good defense and limit free passes. We’re going to have to keep them off balance as much as we can offensively because they have a lot of fire power. They did add a pitcher (freshman Cara Custer) who has done extremely well for them. Offensively, I feel really good about where we’re at and our ability to hit good pitching. It’s going to be about us making plays in the field and limiting their offense.”

On Texas Tech being one of the many perennial powers in the Big 12:
“Texas Tech is in the top half of our conference in my opinion. They are a great team for us to play and a great opportunity for us to play another top-20 RPI team. We’re going to battle and make good offensive adjustments. For us to be successful against them, we have to play really good defense and keep their offense off balance.”

Kansas will hit the road for the final time in the regular season, traveling to College Station, Texas to take on the No. 18/16 Texas A&M Aggies. The series is scheduled for May 4-6 with game times slated for 7 p.m., 3 p.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.