Team Awards Highlight Season Banquet
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A night of food, fun and laughter set the tone for the 2013 Kansas softball banquet held Wednesday evening.
Together with teammates, coaches and support staff, the Jayhawks looked back on a stellar 34-16 season in which their nation-leading .345 batting average also broke the Big 12 record. What’s more, the 2013 squad’s winning percentage of .680 marks the best at KU since 1992 (.818). Arguably the most notable, however, is the Jayhawks finishing the Big 12 slate with a winning record (9-8) for the first time since the 2005 season, when KU also posted a 9-8 finish. KU’s fourth-place finish is the team’s highest since 2001.
After dinner at the seniors’ choice of restaurant, head coach Megan Smith took the floor to hand out the coveted team awards. Selected by the coaching staff, Smith began with the Co-Freshmen of the Year honors given to Chaley Brickey and Kelsey Kessler.
Next, Smith called senior Maggie Hull front and center to name her Team MVP for the second-straight season. Hull broke her own single-season batting average record (.456) in 2013 and set the new KU career batting average (.368) and RBI record (140) in the process.
In her fourth year at Kansas, Smith then asked Hull, seniors Rosie Hull and Mariah Montgomery and redshirt junior Alex Jones to join her up front for a special Big Jay award. The foursome has been with Smith through each game of her first four years at Kansas, including Montgomery and Maggie Hull who started all 210 of those contests.
“This group has given us everything they have and are a big part of helping us get this program where we want it to go,” Smith said. “They bought in and dedicated themselves to making this program better. They are a tremendous group – it’s been an honor.”
Team Co-Freshmen of the Year: Chaley Brickey, Kelsey Kessler
Both named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, Brickey and Kessler were each vital components to the Jayhawks’ success in 2013.
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.
Brickey found her groove against the third-best RPI conference in the country. 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.
Team MVP: Maggie Hull
Hull, who boasts a 3.8 GPA as a double major in Spanish and journalism, was named the Big 12 Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She was also recognized on the All-Big 12 Second Team.
The Lawrence, Kan., native 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 – 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.
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.
Team Big Jay Award: Maggie Hull, Rosie Hull, Alex Jones and Mariah Montgomery
The four chosen to share this year’s Big Jay Award are those that started their Jayhawk careers alongside Smith four years ago. Together, the foursome collected 115 wins, including three-straight 30-win seasons.
Since arriving, the group of four has helped KU upset at least on top-25 team every season and highlighted that by knocking off No. 1 Oklahoma on Senior Day, the first time Kansas knocked off a top-ranked team in program history.
Jones is a two-time Big Jay Award winner after fighting her way back from an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2012 season. She came back to start all 50 games in 2013 and will return for the 2014 season. Like the senior class that is departing, Jones has been involved in every step of the first four years of Smith’s career.
One of the most selfless players Smith has ever worked with, Rosie Hull played more than 160 games for the Jayhawks. Whether on the field or in the dugout, she was a positive leader that will prove difficult to replace.
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