Kansas Softball Earns Multiple All-Big 12 Honors
May 14, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. â€“ Led by senior>Maggie Hull capturing the league’s first Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, the Kansas softball team was well represented on the All-Big 12 Conference awards list, announced Tuesday afternoon by the conference office.
Hull, who boasts a 3.8 GPA as a double major in Spanish and journalism, was also recognized on the All-Big 12 Second Team. Freshmen>Chaley Brickey and>Kelsey Kessler join Hull on the second team, while senior>Mariah Montgomery was named the best first baseman in the league as displayed on the All-Big 12 Defensive Team.
â€œI think it makes a statement about where we’re going,â€ head coach Megan Smith said about Kansas’ strong presence on the award list. â€œOur two freshmen on the All-Big 12 list says a lot about what’s to come and for Maggie to be consistently recognized by the conference is very big for us, as well.â€
Hull, a left fielder from Lawrence, Kan., capped her iconic Jayhawk softball career with the prestigious academic honor, sharing the award with Baylor’s Kathy Shelton. In 210-consecutive starts for the Jayhawks, Hull broke the Kansas batting average record for the second-straight season, hitting .456 in 2013 â€“ the third-best single-season mark in Big 12 history. More impressively, Hull completed her time at Kansas as the program’s leader in career batting average with a .368, which sits one spot away from the Big 12’s all-time top-10 list.
â€œMaggie just works extremely hard in the classroom and on the field and is successful at both,â€ head coach Megan Smith said. â€œThat’s a big honor as is her being on the second team. She has done unbelievable things in her career here and her name is all over the record books. She will be known as one of the best to ever play here.â€
At the conclusion of the 2013 regular season, Hull covered nearly every offensive category in the Big 12 rankings: batting average (.456, 1st), hits (73, 1st), doubles (18, 1st), triples (4, 2nd), total bases (120, 4th), on-base percentage (.532, 4th), slugging percentage (.750, 5th), runs scored (45, T-8th) and RBIs (45, 9th).
Not just a power at the plate, Hull was the only Jayhawk to take the field in all 50 games this season and not record an error. The senior outfielder caught 71 of 71 chances hit at her in left this season. The 2013 season makes three-straight seasons of all-conference honors for Hull, the first Jayhawk to post that feat since All-American Shelly Musser earned four-straight nods from 1999-2002.
Montgomery, the only other Kansas player to record 210-straight starts in the Smith era, was recognized following a selfless transition on her part. Prior to her final campaign with the Jayhawks, Montgomery was asked to move from her regular position at shortstop and play first base as a senior. The Ralston, Neb., product recorded a .988 fielding percentage in Big 12 contests and a .985 mark overall, helping the Jayhawks break a program record with a collective .976 fielding percentage in 2013.
In her final collegiate season, Montgomery hit .340 with 12 doubles and 35 RBIs to finish second all-time in KU’s career RBI race. The 138 runs she drove in as a Jayhawk are second only to Hull’s 140 in the KU record books.
â€œMia (Montgomery) is a strong defensive player and made that move easily from shortstop to first base this year,â€ Smith said. â€œShe is a leader on the field for us, defensively, and really was a strong first baseman. She makes a lot of great picks off of bad throws and leads our team out there. She was very deserving of this award.â€
KU’s senior duo shared the Big 12 spotlight with rookie phenoms in Brickey and Kessler. Both showed progression through their freshman seasons, getting stronger as they worked through a grueling Big 12 slate; a good sign of things to come, according to Smith.
â€œOur freshman class is strong, Chaley and Kessler had great seasons and we expect a lot of big things for them as their careers continue,â€ Smith said.
A pitcher from Blue Springs, Mo., Kessler made KU history on April 7 in Lubbock, Texas, by throwing a no-hitter against Texas Tech. The no-hit bid was the 23rd in school history and the first since Kassie Humphreys did so against New Mexico on March 11, 2007. Kessler went on to become only the second pitcher in the country to shutout the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners on May 5, leading the Jayhawks to their first-ever win against a top-ranked team.
Still rolling, Kessler added three more wins to her resume in the last weekend of the season, going 3-0 at Iowa State. Kessler finished the season with a 12-6 overall record and a 7-3 mark in Big 12 play. Only All-American, Team USA pitcher and this year’s Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts, had as many shutouts in conference-only games (four) as Kessler did.
Kessler’s 2.19 overall ERA is the best by a KU pitcher since Val George posted a 1.96 ERA in 2008. Meanwhile, the rookie right-hander’s 2.22 mark in conference play fell in amongst a very elite group of pitchers, trailing All-Americans Blaire Luna (Texas), Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) and Michelle Gascoigne (Oklahoma) and ahead of Baylor All-American Whitney Canion.
Up against the third-best RPI conference in the country is where Brickey found her groove. The freshman from Haltom City, Texas posted a better batting average in conference play, ranking third on the team at .318, than she did overall with a .297. Her 12 doubles are tied for ninth in the Big 12 and second all-time by a KU freshman. Brickey, who graduated a year early from high school to join the Jayhawks, had at least one hit in all but five conference games this year.
Brickey led the Jayhawks with 25 walks this season and hit all four of her home runs against league opponents, including back-to-back games against top-25 Baylor. A 5-foot-0 force at shortstop, Brickey committed only two errors in league play.
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