KU Wins Big 12 Championship

May 13, 2006

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Kansas softball defeated Oklahoma, 4-2, Saturday at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium to win the 2006 Big 12 Championship and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. The Jayhawks (34-24), winners of seven straight games, entered the postseason tournament the No. 6 seed while the 20th-ranked Sooners were seeded fifth.

The sixth-seeded Jayhawks entered the contest the lowest seed to ever advance to the championship game. The Big 12 postseason championship is KU’s first in program history.

Serena Settlemier, the 2006 Big 12 Player of the Year, was named MVP of the championship while Kassie Humphreys and Jessica Moppin were named to the all-tournament team. Humphreys (17-16) held OU to just one hit and struck out seven in six innings to get the win. Settlemier, who gave up three hits in one inning, got the start for KU and went 3-for-3 at the plate.

The KU offense totaled eight hits off OU ace D.J. Mathis (14-7), who struck out two and allowed two earned runs in the complete-game effort.

KU scored two runs off two hits and an error in the first inning. Stevie Crisosto singled to right field and Serena Settlemier doubled down the left line to put two Jayhawks in scoring position. With two outs, OU pitcher D.J. Mathis was unable to field a grounder up the middle from Jessica Moppin, allowing Crisosto and Settlemier to score.

The Sooners answered with two runs in the bottom of the first. Norelle Dickson led off with an infield single and moved to second on an Amber Spaulding sacrifice bunt. With two outs, a fly ball from Samantha Ricketts tipped off the glove of right fielder Heather Stanley and Dickson scored from second. Savannah Long singled to left center to score Ricketts and tie the game, 2-2.

KU clinched the win in the top of the sixth with two runs off three hits. Settlemier led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Ashley Goodrich. Frankenstein notched a bunt single and Moppin doubled off the left field fence to score Goodrich from third. Stanley’s sacrifice fly allowed Frankentstein to score and give KU a 4-2 lead.

Humphreys held OU scoreless and the KU defense was perfect the last two innings to hold on to the win.

“I really saw our team come to play today with a level of intensity and a level of confidence that I haven’t seen very often,” head coach Tracy Bunge said. “They were loose. They were relaxed. They had fun before the ballgame. They were not tight. They were going to play hard and they were going to play well and whatever happened, happened. We swung the bats well. It just was a solid overall team effort. It is an absolutely fun day. I’m so proud of this team and so proud of my seniors in particular.”

KU will learn its NCAA Regional destination when the bracket is announced at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The 2006 selection announcement will air live on ESPNews.