Kansas Heads to Oklahoma City to Defend Its 2006 Big 12 Tournament Title

May 8, 2007


First Pitch
Kansas (32-23-1, 7-11 Big 12) returns to Oklahoma City this weekend to defend its Big 12 Tournament title. The Jayhawks will open up with Iowa State (24-39, 3-15 Big 12) on Thursday, May 10 at 5 p.m. In the single elimination tournament, a victory would pit KU against second seeded Oklahoma (49-6, 14-4 Big 12) for an 11 a.m. tilt on Friday morning. An upset of the No. 3 Sooners would put KU two victories away from winning back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles.

The Jayhawks return 10 letterwinners from last year’s Big 12 postseason championship team, including All-Big 12 senior pitcher Kassie Humphreys (18-14). Sophomore shortstop Stevie Crisosto leads the Jayhawk attack with a .302 batting average. Head coach Tracy Bunge is in her 11th season at KU with a 350-294-2 record.

Kansas Quick Hits
-Senior ace Kassie Humphreys (Glendale, Ariz.) is one of the Big 12’s top pitchers. She is 18-14 this season with 216 strikeouts and is holding opponents to a .194 batting average in 41 appearances. Humphreys’ five saves are tied with Sarah Clopton’s five in 2000 for the most in a season by a Jayhawk pitcher.

-The 2007 Kansas squad consists of five upperclassmen — two seniors and three juniors — and 13 underclassmen — seven sophomores and six freshmen. Of Kansas’ top seven batters this season, six are freshmen and sophomores.

-The Jayhawks’ eight newcomers in 2007 are the most since the 2003 season.

-Last year, Kansas won its first-ever Big 12 Postseason Championship and advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the second consecutive season.

-KU has made 10 trips to the NCAA Regionals in the last 26 years and has gone four times under head coach Tracy Bunge in the past 10 seasons (most recently in 2006).

Jayhawks Begin Title Defense Against Iowa State
Kansas will look to rebound from a disappointing week against Iowa State, a team that bounced the Jayhawks twice in the past week, 8-0 and 3-2. KU has had only one other five-game losing streak this season and they followed that with a five game win streak. Thursday’s game will be the fourth time this season the two teams have met. Iowa State leads the season series 2-1. Iowa State’s series sweep of the Jayhawks over the weekend was the first time KU has been swept by the Cyclones in a series since April 29, 1995.

If KU escapes the first round with a victory, No. 3 Oklahoma looms as its next opponent. KU and Oklahoma split their pair of games this season, which was headlined by Kassie Humphreys two-hitting the Sooner offense in the first contest. Kansas and Oklahoma met in last year’s Big 12 Tournament Championship game, with KU coming out on top, 4-2. It will be OU’s first game since defeating KU 13-4 on April 29.

About Iowa State
Iowa State’s Big 12 season will be remembered for the consistent improvement the team showed in the latter stages of the season. Iowa State picked up their first Big 12 victory seven games into the conference season with a 5-0 shutout of Texas Tech. The Cyclones then continued to play tough, as they narrowly fell to Nebraska 3-1, Missouri 1-0 and Texas 1-0. Iowa State’s seven seniors closed out their home careers and the regular season with a sweep of the Jayhawks, 8-0 and 3-2.

Iowa State’s offense is led by its promising freshman Alex Johnson. Johnson leads the team with a .318 batting average and has scored 17 runs. She is tied for the team lead in doubles (13) and home runs (five). Providing support for Johnson is fellow freshman Courtney Wray and senior Katie Reichling. Wray’s .254 batting average is third best on the team, and her two triples are tied for the team lead. Reichling bats .258 and is tops on the team with 28 runs batted in this year.

In the circle for Iowa State will be a senior-freshman combo. ISU’s ace, senior Alyssa Ransom (12-17), leads the team with a 2.75 ERA and holds opponents to a .271 batting average. Ransom, the reigning Big 12 pitcher of the week, was the victorious pitcher in Iowa State victories over KU. Freshman Charissa Carlin (9-11) is second on the team with a 3.48 ERA and has thrown three complete games in 20 starts.

About No. 3 Oklahoma
No. 3 Oklahoma is the highest ranked Big 12 school in the nation and has the leauge’s best winning percentage (.891). The Sooners have defeated 10 ranked opponents and have only been shutout twice this season. OU’s offensive attack is one of the best in the country, and is tops in the Big 12 with a .335 batting average.

Oklahoma is led offensively by lead-off hitter Norrelle Dickson. Dickson leads the Big 12 in batting average (.479), hits (79), and runs scored (68). OU’s offense is not limited to Dickson, as four other players bat over .300 including sophomore Samantha Ricketts. Ricketts is the Big 12 leader in runs batted in (77), home runs (17) and total bases (131).

Oklahoma’s pitching staff is nearly as impressive as its offensive counterpart. Junior Lauren Eckermann (31-3) has pitched 26 complete games and has the league’s sixth best ERA (1.66) while throwing the most innings (223.0). KU may also see sophomore pitcher D.J. Mathis (12-3). Mathis has 88 strikeouts on the season and boasts a 2.43 ERA.

Freshman Leading the Jayhawk Attack
Freshman right fielder Amanda Jobe has been the team’s best hitter over the past month. The last game Jobe missed was 17 games ago on April 3, and since that time, she has hit a team-best .297. Jobe leads the team in nearly every single offensive category including home runs (2), slugging percentage (.486), on-base percentage (.500), total bases (18), RBI (five) and walks (13).

The lefty has proven to be a true utility player, seeing time in right field, at first base and as the designated player. Jobe has also proven to be one of the Jayhawks’ most steady hands in the field. She has committed only one error, while recording 120 put-outs and seven assists.

Chapple Has Caught Fire
During the past eight games, no Jayhawk is hitting better than sophomore Val Chapple. In that span, Chapple is batting a team best .381 and owns an impressive .619 slugging percentage. In the past eight games, her eight hits, two doubles, 13 total bases and .409 on-base percentage are tops on the team.

Steady Bat Atop the Batting Order
Sophomore Dougie McCaulley has been a model of consistency for a team that, at times, has been streaky. McCaulley is one of four Jayhawks to start all 56 games this season, and leads the team in at bats (178) and plate appearances (204). The junior college transfer has had five three-game hit streaks during the season, while having only one stretch without a hit in three consecutive games.

How the Jayhawks Win–Inside the Numbers
With the regular season complete, a dive into the numbers show what statistics helped and hurt the Jayhawks this season. Leading off, KU is 23-0 when ahead after five innings and 26-3 when scoring first. Kansas is 21-6 when hitting at least one home run and is 18-5 when recording zero errors. Kansas’s best inning? The third inning. KU totaled 50 runs in the third, 24 more than any other inning. Kansas is 2-0 in extra innings and 13-0 when the team scores more than four runs. The Jayhawks are 25-3-1 when out-hitting their opponent.

To beat the Jayhawks, teams need to score five runs–Kansas is 0-13 when allowing five runs or more. KU is 4-11-1 when committing two or more errors. Kansas is 2-19 when trailing after four innings. The fourth inning also happens to be the toughest inning for the `Hawks, as the team gave up 28 runs while only crossing home plate 19 times themselves.

Jayhawk Senior Kassie Humphreys
Senior Kassie Humphreys is having another successful campaign. Her name is among the conference’s leaders in nearly all major pitching statistics. Humphreys is tied for sixth in the Big 12 with 18 wins, fourth with 185.1 innings pitched, sixth for complete games with 17 and shutouts with six. Humphreys leads the Big 12 in saves (five) and is second in appearances (41). She ranks third in strikeouts (216) and fifth in opponent batting average (.194). Humphreys is also the only Jayhawk with a perfect fielding percentage this season.

Crisosto Having Record-Setting Season
Sophomore shortstop Stevie Crisosto has been the team’s most consistent offensive performer this season. Crisosto has recorded at least one hit in 65% of the team’s games while batting .302. She is third on the team with a .451 slugging percentage and leads the team in total bases with 73. The Palo Cedro, Calif. native is also the Jayhawks’ most effective base-runner, as she leads the team with 13 stolen bases.

Crisosto’s stellar sophomore campaign will put her name in the record books for one of the best seasons by a second-year Jayhawk. Currently, she ranks fifth for runs scored with 32 and is in a tie for third with four home runs. Crisosto’s nine doubles and 13 stolen bases put her in fifth place for their respective categories among all-time KU sophomores.

Humphreys is One of the Big 12’s Most Versatile Player
Senior pitcher Kassie Humphreys has long been regarded as one of the Big 12’s top pitchers, but in her senior campaign, she has become a major weapon on offense. In Big 12 play, Humphreys ranks 13th in the league with a 3.21 ERA, fourth in strikeouts with 76 and tied for third in appearances with 15.

At the plate in Big 12 play, Humphreys is batting .255 and has a .314 on base percentage–both second best on the Jayhawk squad.

Pottorf Back In the Swing of Things
Sophomore catcher Elle Pottorf ranks fifth on the team with a .246 batting average. The Topeka, Kan. native has 35 hits and a team-leading 37 RBI in 55 games as the catcher and designated player. Pottorf returned to the diamond Feb. 8 for the first time since May 2005 after taking a medical redshirt due to shoulder surgery.

Pottorf, like sophomore shortstop Stevie Crisosto, is having a season that will land her name in the record books. Pottorf’s team-leading nine home runs are the second most for ever for a Jayhawk sophomore, trailing only Serena Settlemier’s 11 homers.

Kansas Picked to Finish Sixth in the Big 12
Kansas was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 Conference in 2007, the league office announced Jan. 18. Texas A&M is the Big 12 softball coaches’ preseason favorite to win the league title for the second-straight season. The Aggies (80 points) received eight of the possible 10 first-place votes to edge out second-place Baylor, which earned 69 points, including one first-place tally. Nebraska was ranked third followed by Oklahoma, defending-conference champion Texas, and 2006 postseason winner Kansas. Filling the remaining spots in the preseason poll were Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas Tech and Iowa State, respectively.

Missouri was the Big 12’s biggest surprise, finishing in third place. Texas A&M finished in fourth place, three spots lower than their predicted first place finish.

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