Jayhawk Softball Returns to Campus Ready to Work

Aug. 23, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Third-year head coach Megan Smith welcomed back the University of Kansas softball team for a series of team meetings over the weekend as the Jayhawks get a head start on preparing for the 2012 season.

Smith and her coaching staff welcome seven newcomers to this year’s squad, comprised of six freshmen and a junior transfer, to accompany four seniors, five juniors and three sophomores for a well-balanced roster. The Jayhawks met at the softball locker room on Saturday morning before heading to a team lunch hosted by Smith to kick off the first week of class and fall practice.

“It’s definitely exciting to have everybody back,” Smith said. “The best part is seeing how excited they are to be back. We have a lot of new players, but we also have a lot of returning players, too, that had some very good years last year. We’re ready to get them all on the field and see what they can do.”

Following lunch with the team, all seven newcomers attended “Traditions Night” for initiation into Jayhawk culture gameday traditions. More official business was tended to on Sunday when the team met for textbook distribution and meetings with various members of the Kansas Athletics administration. A “Welcome Back” barbeque sponsored by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) wrapped up the day.

More extensive team meetings, physicals and getting settled into new classes are on the docket for the first half of the week before the team heads to Arrocha Ballpark on Thursday for the first individual workout and practice session of the season.

“We use this early fall time to evaluate,” Smith said. “We definitely want to see what they can do, and it doesn’t take us long to see what they worked on over the summer. We want to spend the initial time with them observing and evaluating before we go in and start implementing our system and our way of doing things.”

Smith explained that the early individual sessions are similar to a showcase, meaning the players are put through fundamental drills and given room to display their playing style and talent, while she and her staff assess strengths and weaknesses. From there, the staff will develop a training plan to get each player familiar with the Jayhawks’ style of play.

Kansas finished the 2011 season with a 31-22 record, and welcome back last season’s homerun leader in redshirt senior Liz Kocon (14) and junior Maggie Hull, who topped the team in batting average (.346).