Jayhawk Softball Hits the Field for First Day of Team Practice

Sept. 19, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – After working through four weeks of individual practices, the University of Kansas softball team gathered for the first team practice of the fall, Monday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.

Head coach Megan Smith said she was pleased with not only the effort her team put forth during individual practices, but the level of play her team is approaching so early in the year.

“We feel like we’re ahead of schedule,” Smith said. “Our returners really worked hard over the summer, so they came in ahead of their game. Our incoming players are really eager and have come in ready to learn, so they’ve picked up things very quickly over the past four weeks. So we do feel ahead of schedule and are excited to see how the newcomers mesh with the returners.”

The Jayhawks, who posted a 31-22 record in 2011, announced their fall exhibition schedule last week. Those games will help Smith and her coaching staff evaluate the workouts that began on Monday.

“We’re very excited,” Smith said. “We go through individuals, work on fundamentals and see them in small group settings, but it’s always fun to see their dynamic when they get together as a team for the first time.”

Kansas returns 12 letterwinners from last year’s squad and welcomes seven newcomers, which include six freshmen and one transfer. Junior outfielder Maggie Hull highlights the list of returners after being named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Regional Second Team last season. Fellow All-Region honoree Brittany Hile graduated last season after a highly-decorated career as a Jayhawk, but joins the staff as a student assistant coach in the fall and a volunteer assistant in the spring.

Additionally, Smith said she has six pitchers she will evaluate this fall to accompany a lineup that cranked out 60 homeruns last season.

“The upperclassmen have been picking on the freshmen and incoming players and having fun with them, just to get a sense of who they are,” Smith said. “I know they’re excited to welcome them and get them going. They all worked really hard this summer and over the last four weeks so I know they’re excited about getting together.”

Kansas will kick off the fall slate against Johnson County Community College on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. The following weekend, the Jayhawks will host the KU Fall Invite on Oct. 2. They will face area schools Washburn and Butler County Community College during the Saturday-only tournament.