Kansas Welcomes Nation's Best Oklahoma on Senior Weekend
May 3, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Amongst uncharacteristic weather and a milestone senior day, the Kansas Jayhawks will host the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in the final home series of the 2013 season, May 4-5.
AROUND THE BALLPARK
– Saturday: Free hot dogs to first 50 students
– Sunday: Senior Day, Brunch in the Park, trading card giveaway
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
A live audio stream will be available for all three games 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. Oklahoma (Oklahoma leads, 50-41): Kansas and Oklahoma passed the 90-games played mark last season in a series that dates back to 1978. The Sooners hold a 10-9 advantage in Norman and a 29-12 mark in Lawrence, while KU leads on neutral ground, 20-10. Oklahoma has won nine of the last 10 games against Kansas and has been nationally-ranked in the last 47-consecutive meetings. KU last defeated OU on April 11, 2009, when the Sooners were ranked 13th in the country.
- This weekend will pit the Big 12’s best offenses against each other. KU (.344) is first in the conference in team batting average and OU (.338) is second. Oklahoma (.591) leads the Big 12 in slugging percentage, while Kansas (.497) is second.
- Last season, OU took the first two games using 8-0 run rules, but in their second time against All-American Keilani Ricketts in the series, the Jayhawks outhit the Sooners (9-8), despite losing the finale, 6-2.
- For the 12th-straight week, Kansas leads the Big 12 in batting average as the Jayhawks are hitting .344 as a team. No team other than KU has led the league this year and that mark ranks fourth in the latest NCAA stats (4/29).
- Weather claimed the Jayhawks’ fourth game of the season on Wednesday when a threatening storm prompted KU to cancel its midweek game against Wichita State.
- On Sunday, Kansas softball will honor its seniors: Morgan Druhan, Maggie Hull, Rosie Hull and Mariah Montgomery. Together this class has helped KU to 113 wins. The trio of Hull, Hull and Montgomery has churned out 545 hits, 316 RBIs and 323 runs scored, while Druhan has 300 career strikeouts.
- Freshman catcher/designated player Alex Hugo has three homers in KU’s last five games. Not only does she hold the Jayhawks’ freshman home run record – her 14 home runs in a season is something that only three other Jayhawks can claim in program history (Serena Settlemier, 22, 2006; Liz Kocon, 14, 2011; Destiny Frankenstein, 14, 2005).
- Senior left fielder Maggie Hull is tied for the Kansas career RBI crown. One more RBI will break the record currently held by former Jayhawk and current softball color analyst Liz Kocon (135, 2008-12).
- Hull also continues her season-long reign as the Big 12 batting average leader, hitting at a .451 clip entering the weekend. With six 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’ .344 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-four in the Big 12 in batting average. Hull’s .451 mark and Hugo’s .424 clip rank them first and fourth, respectively, among all Big 12 hitters. KU, No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 6 Texas are the only teams with more than one player in the top 10.
- Entering the week, KU’s offense has 245 total RBIs to its credit. Three more would tie the team for second-most all-time at KU (248, 2011) with the school-record in reach (271, 1981).
- Additionally, Hull, Hugo and sophomore catcher/designated player Maddie Stein enter the week with 40, 44 and 46 RBIs, respectively. The trio marks the first time in program history three different players have recorded 40+ RBIs in the same season.
- KU tied a season-high with three errors in its last time out – a rarity for a team that is tied for the lead in the Big 12 with its .976 fielding percentage, which ranks 12th in the country.
No. 1 OKLAHOMA (43-3, 11-1 Big 12)
The favorite in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, defending conference champion Oklahoma has never been ranked lower than No. 2 during the 2013 season and has owned the NCAA’s top-ranking for eight-straight weeks. In her 19th season, head coach Patty Gasso was inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame last season after leading her team to the NCAA Women’s College World Series and collecting Big 12 Coach of the Year honors for the fifth time. All four Sooner seniors were drafted in the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) College Draft in April, the same one that saw KU senior Maggie Hull go 11th overall.
Oklahoma got out to a 17-0 start before suffering its first loss at No. 25 Nebraska. A loss to No. 11 Louisville and giving up one game of the series at No. 6 Texas marks the Sooners’ only losses of the season. OU has 24 shutout victories on the year and the Sooners are 41-0 when they score first. The NCAA’s No. 1 team has 19 run-rule victories in 2013, including all three games against Iowa State last weekend. OU scored a school-record 24 runs to win the series opener against the Cyclones.
All nine of OU’s starting position players are hitting above .320 as the team heads to Lawrence with a .338 batting average – second only to Kansas in the Big 12. Sophomore first baseman Lauren Chamberlain hasn’t lost a step since breaking the Big 12 home run record with 30 as a rookie. In her second season, Chamberlain leads the league with 22 home runs and is hitting .427 – third to KU’s Hull (.451) and Texas’ Taylor Hoagland (.443). Senior left fielder Brianna Turang (.408) and senior All-American pitcher Keilani Ricketts (.402) are also clearing the .400 mark.
Of each of OU’s powerful hitters, sophomore shortstop Shelby Pendley has been the hottest as of late. Pendley transferred to OU after an All-Pac 12 First Team freshman season at Arizona, and in her last 11 games is 18-33 (.545) with 10 home runs, 30 RBIs, 16 runs scored, three doubles, seven walks and two stolen bases. She has a .634 on-base percentage in that time with a 1.545 slugging percentage.
Their power at the plate is only a portion of what the Sooners can do as they enter the weekend touting a 1.17 team ERA, the best in the NCAA. Ricketts, a left-handed senior, is a three-time All-American and a member of Team USA. In 2012 alone, Ricketts was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Big 12 Player of the Year and the Honda Softball Player of the Year. In her senior season, Ricketts is 24-1 with a 1.15 ERA and 246 strikeouts. In OU’s last time out, Ricketts threw her fifth career no-hitter to down complete the sweep against Iowa State.
Ricketts, however, ranks second to fellow senior lefty Michelle Gascoigne (16-2). In 112.1 innings this season, Gascoigne has given up just 15 earned runs to lead the nation with a 0.93 ERA.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On the powerhouse that is Oklahoma:
“Although I haven’t seen this team yet this year, I think it’s probably the best team that’s ever played the college game. Their lineup 1-9 is phenomenal offensively and there are some people even on their bench that can come in and do some good things, too. Their pitching staff is the best in the country. They’re well coached and they do everything well. It’s going to be exciting to play one of the best teams that I think I’ll ever see.”
On avoiding any intimidation factor:
“They put on a uniform just like we do. We will focus on doing what we need to do well and make sure that we’re making routine plays. We’ll focus on hitting our spots as pitchers and making good choices up at the plate. In our sport on any given day, anyone can beat anyone and that’s going to be our focus heading into the weekend. They’re good and we respect that, but they’re human just like we are.”
On the senior tandem of Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne in the circle:
“They’re special players. They’re both are extremely talented and their senior class has done a lot of great things. It’s been fun to watch them and follow them through the postseason and the World Series. They’ve had great careers and we respect them a lot, but we’re ready for them to graduate and leave the conference (jokingly).”
On 40 home runs between sophomores Lauren Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley and the offense as a whole:
“Being strong offensively is an understatement for Lauren Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley. They are phenomenal. It’s about us being smart and hitting our spots and controlling what we can control. That’s what our focus needs to be this weekend.”
On two of the Big 12’s best offenses facing off:
“We’re pleased with what our players are doing. We’ve made big strides pitching-wise and offensively, we have some players that are stepping up and doing some big things in conference. Again, we just want to continue to improve on our game and specifically want to improve on what didn’t quite go as well last weekend with Baylor in terms of our defense. We want to make sure that our defense is as clean as it can be, and that we’re making routine plays and being fundamentally sound.”
On the weather being a constant factor:
“It’s been difficult; it’s been different. We haven’t had to deal with that (to this extreme) since I’ve been here so it’s been a challenge. But, to our players’ and staff’s credit, that there have been no excuses. We practice where we can and get the most out of those practices wherever we are. Regardless, of where we’re practicing, we are prepared at game time.”
On hosting Senior Day for the first full class that has spent all four years under her:
“It’s a sad day, but it’s also an exciting day. Those seniors – specifically the ones that have been here all four years with me – have gone through a lot. They’ve done a lot of work to get the program moving in the right direction. It takes a vision and a coaching staff to get it started, but it also takes players that really take ownership of that vision. Those three (Maggie Hull, Rosie Hull and Mariah Montgomery) have certainly done that. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for them believing in it back when they were freshmen, and them buying in and wanting to do this with us as a staff. Those three wholeheartedly wanted to do that and that’s why we are where we are. If they would’ve fought it or not been as diligent in getting it going, we would be five steps behind where we are right now. Our success that we’ve had over the last four years is all about Maggie, Rosie, Mariah and AJ (Alex Jones, who took a medical redshirt last year to prevent her from being in this senior class).”
Kansas will travel to Ames, Iowa to wrap up the regular season at Iowa State. The three-game series is set for May 10-12 with games times at 4 p.m., noon and noon.
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