2008 Softball In Review
May 16, 2008
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
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With its most wins since 1997, KU softball wrapped up the 2008 season 37-19 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12 Conference. When the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament bracket was released in May, a third of KU’s 56-game schedule had been against tournament-bound teams.
For the fifth consecutive season and 24th time in program history, <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kansas hit the 30-win plateau and also collected its 100th all-time Big 12 Conference victory with a 6-2 win over IowaState on May 4. The Jayhawks also enjoyed a span of 10 weeks in which they received votes in at least one of the two major college softball polls.
Kansas opened its 2008 season with a tournament crown after posting a 5-1 record during the UCF Invitational, Feb. 8-10, including a win over host Central Florida, a NCAA Tournament participant, in the championship game. KU continued to find early season success picking up victories over tournament-bound Oregon and BYU at the UNLV Invitational, then finishing 4-1 at the Houston Invite and 3-1 at the SIU Classic.
Twenty-games into the season, KU made its home debut on March 8 with a run-rule win over IndianaState during the Jayhawk Classic. From there, the Jayhawks went on a five-game winning streak heading into Big 12 Conference play and posted an .810 non-conference winning percentage (30-7), second only to eventual Big 12 Champion Texas A&M.
The Jayhawks picked up their first conference victories of the 2008 season in a sweep over Texas Tech at home on March 29. KU experienced some minor growing pains as Big 12 play carried on, plagued by injuries and illness, but the team was able to collect wins over NCAA Tournament participant Texas and 2007 Big 12 regular-season champion Baylor. Senior day was also a success for Kansas as the Jayhawks defeated IowaState in front of a season high crowd at Arrocha Ballpark.
The 2008 season was also one for the history books as the Jayhawks played their first night game at Arrocha Ballpark versus WichitaState on April 24 – a doubleheader sweep consisting of 8-0 and 4-0 shutouts.
In addition to the team’s many accomplishments, several Jayhawks made individual strides as well during the 2008 season. Three players were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and eight earned Academic All-Big 12 honors.
Sophomore Amanda Jobe earned her second consecutive All-Big 12 appointment and also earned first team academic honors. First time selections senior Betsy Wilson and junior Dougie McCaulley also joined Jobe on the All-Big 12 Second Team.
One of just four Big 12 players with a perfect 4.0 GPA, junior Val Chapple was named Academic All-Big 12 First Team for the second time in her career. Val George, Addy Lucero, Sara Sidebottom and Ally Stanton also earned first team academic honors, while Stevie Crisosto and Sarah Vertelka were named to the second team.
Besides being recognized at the conference level, Chapple received national attention when she garnered National Player of the Week honors on March 10 for tying a school-record with three home runs in one game. The Overland Park, Kan., native eventually amassed nine home runs on the year, eighth in KU’s single-season top 10 list, and also found herself in the top 10 in runs (6th-40 runs) and RBIs (7th-37 RBIs).
McCaulley joined Chapple in the Jayhawks’ single-season records, recording the program’s sixth-best batting average with a .375 clip and accumulating 63 hits, ninth on the record list. She is also ninth on KU’s career list hitting .317 after two years at Kansas.
Pitcher Val George also enjoyed a breakout junior campaign in which the Tucson, Ariz., native earned the starting nod from the circle for much of the season. George worked her way into the top five of nearly every Big 12 pitching category and also cracked the top 10 in KU’s career appearance and strikeout lists.
The Jayhawks, who graduated four seniors in Amy Farrow, Addy Lucero, Sara Sidebottom and Betsy Wilson, will welcome three newcomers to next year’s squad. Sarah Blair (pitcher/Katy, Texas), Marissa Ingle (third base/Olathe, Kan.) and Kelsey Alsdorf (infield/Littleton, Colo.) will join the University of Kansas softball team for the 2008-09 academic year.