Softball Inks Four in Talented 2012 Signing Class

Nov. 10, 2011

Fall Signing Day 2011
Softball Signees
Name Pos. Hometown
Chaley Brickey SS Weatherford, Texas
Alex Hugo UTIL Olathe, Kan.
Kylee Kennedy INF Topeka, Kan.
Kelsey Kessler P Blue Springs, Mo.

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three versatile athletes and a pitcher holding Missouri’s state record in career victories comprise the 2012 signing class that head coach Megan Smithand the University of Kansas softball team signed to National Letters of Intent Thursday afternoon.

Chaley Brickey (SS), Alex Hugo (UTL), Kelsey Kessler (P) and Kylee Kennedy (INF) each officially announced their arrival to the Jayhawk softball team on the second day of the early signing period. Two players from the dynamic four-member class, Hugo and Kennedy, hail from Kansas, while Kessler and Brickey head to Lawrence from Missouri and Texas, respectively.

“This is a really important class,” Smith said. “When we went to recruit these players, we were looking for impact players – players that could come in and make an immediate impact in the Big 12. We found them. We’ve got a great group of girls that are very well balanced. There’s a great pitcher in the group, we have three really strong position players and we’re really excited about what they’re going to be able to add to our team.”

Smith, in her third year at Kansas, discussed that she and her coaching staff were looking to add depth this season to a roster that jolted out to the program’s best start at 11-0 in 2011, while setting a new team homerun record (60). Although she disclosed her intent to add to her infield depth chart, Smith said her staff’s focus was aimed at recruiting well-rounded athletes that could fill numerous needs.

“We wanted to recruit athletes,” Smith said. “These players cannot only play infield, but they can play anywhere on the field. That’s why it’s important to us to find the best athletes we can find so we can put them anywhere on the field that is going to help the team the most. Those three position players are able to do that.”

Chaley Brickey is the daughter of Debbie Wall and Joe Brickey will graduate early from Haltom High School, but has already racked up an impressive list of accolades during her time with the Buffaloes. Under the direction of HHS coach Allison Conway, Brickey brings a reputation of strong glove work with her to Lawrence.

“When you go to a field, you walk away and remember Chaley Brickey,” Smith said. “She is going to make a huge impact for us right away. She is a dynamic player, defensively and offensively. I say she is one of the best in the country and I think a lot of people would agree with that.”

Named the team’s MVP in her first season of high school softball, Brickey was named the District Defensive Player of the Year and also accepted a Golden Glove award. Not about to slow during her rookie campaign, Brickey earned spots on the Academic All-District Team and was named First Team All-District. Last spring, Brickey reprised her role on the First Team and Academic All-District teams but the honors proved to be just a stepping stone. As a sophomore, Brickey also earned the District MVP award, the Silver Bat award and was bestowed by VYPE Magazine as the 2011 All-VYPE MVP Softball Player in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

What stood out as strongly as her accolades to Smith and her staff, was Brickey’s excitement to play for the Jayhawks.

“She came to campus a couple of years ago and fell in love with Kansas,” Smith said. “She has been a Jayhawk ever since.”

Brickey is also a member of the elite Texas Glory-Gold club softball team. Coached by Kevin Shelton, the team won the DeMarini Invitational last summer.

111011aab_392_7143482.jpegThe daughter of Brent and Jaci Hugo, Alex is in her senior year as a five-sport athlete at Olathe South High School. Aside from her well-known softball talent, Hugo is an All-Sunflower League honoree for basketball and cross country. She also played volleyball and runs track for Olathe South.

“It’s good to keep the best talent here,” Smith said, who acknowledges the importance of getting Kansas kids in a Kansas jersey. “She really is one of the best utility players in the country. Alex gives her all and is one of those kids who will work as hard as she can. She’s a fiery competitor who brings that every day when she comes to the field.”

Under the direction of OSHS coach Michael Allen, Hugo had an explosive year last spring. She racked up Olathe South Player of the Year, All-Sunflower League First Team, All-State First Team and All-Johnson County honors en route to leading her team to a state runner-up finish at the Kansas State Championships. The spring prior to that, Hugo was awarded a spot on the All-Sunflower League and All-State Second Teams and was voted the team’s MVP.

“Alex Hugo is one of the top utility players in the country,” Smith said. “She can play anywhere on the field. She is fiery and competitive, which will fit in great with the way we do things here and the way we set our team philosophy. She hates to lose, which is my philosophy. We hate to lose even more than we love to win, and that’s how she is.”

On the club front, Hugo plays for the Kansas City Peppers’ Gold team for coach Dan Eakin. With Hugo’s help, the Peppers won the 2010 ASA Gold National Qualifier.

The daughter of Don and Stacy Kennedy, both college athletes in the state of Kansas, Kylee is the second local talent to join the Jayhawks next season. A three-sport athlete at Shawnee Heights Senior High, Kennedy excelled in volleyball and basketball in addition to what has been an impressive softball career under Thunderbird coach Steve Giddens.

“Kylee Kennedy is a local standout that can play anywhere, but she mainly plays infield,” Smith said. “She’s very athletic, very well-rounded and it was her dream to come to Kansas. We’re just really excited that she’s here.”

A three-year letter winner, Kennedy has increasingly improved in each of her first three high school seasons. She was named All-City, All-League and earned the City Leader in Homerun Senior Award during her sophomore year. In addition to a Golden Glove accolade, Kennedy also won her first of two State Softball Academic Awards in 2010.

Last spring, Kennedy claimed the identical list of honors and proceeded to add more to her list of accomplishments. In 2011, she not only led the city – but also the state – in homeruns, on her way to set the school’s single-season homerun record. She was named the team captain to start the year and ended it as the Team MVP as well as the Team RBI Award recipient heading into her senior season this spring.

Along with softball, Kennedy has lettered all three years on the basketball team and twice with volleyball. She earned All-League Honorable Mention in 2011 and is a two-time Academic Award winner as a basketball standout.

“We love getting Kansas kids to Kansas,” Smith said. “For us, it’s important to find those girls that are going to love it, and are going to want to give everything they have to this school. With Kylee, it was her dream to come to Kansas and be a Jayhawk. We’re really excited that she’s going to be able to fill a dream and help our program.”

Kennedy played for mom, Stacy, for six years with the Topeka Outburst club team before switching over to the KC Jazz and coach Terry Corp.

The daughter of Robert and Lanette Kessler, Kelsey just completed her senior year for Blue Springs High School under the guidance of coach Roger Lower. The only pitcher in the 2012 signing class, Kessler has the opportunity to make possibly the most noticeable impact on next year’s squad, especially after proving her ability to step in right away with her current team.

“Kelsey Kessler has been a standout pitcher since she was a freshman,” Smith said. “She has the potential to come in and make a big impact in the circle for us. She has great tools as a pitcher, good velocity, good movement and she changes speeds really well. Kelsey has a presence on the mound that I think people will respond to. We’re glad that she wanted to stay close to home and be a Jayhawk. We’re really excited to see what she can do here.”

In her first year in the circle for the Wildcats, Kessler went an astonishing 30-0, collected 19 shutouts, tossed eight no-hitters and recorded three perfect games to lead BSHS to a state championship title. Her stellar rookie campaign brought her a heaping pile of accolades, highlighted by Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” as her undefeated record marked the first in class 4A history. She received more national attention when ESPN Rise put her on its “Nine to Watch” national list.

The Examiner named her its Player of the Week eight times as she set state records for: single-season winning percentage, single-season wins and RBI in a championship game. Fittingly, Kessler was named All-State, All-Metro, All-Region, All-Conference All-Kansas City Area and All-District. She would earn spots on each of those teams following her sophomore and junior seasons, as well. “We really have been working toward creating more depth in the circle for the last two years,” Smith said. “Adding Kessler, someone of her caliber, is huge for us. She’s been a standout pitcher since she was a freshman in high school. She will add depth, and with her talent will make an immediate impact.”

Following her explosive freshman year, Kessler went on to complete her high school career this fall with a state-record 93 wins and 14 losses, 14 no-hitters and four perfect games.

A teammate of fellow signee Alex Hugo, Kessler also played for the Kansas City Peppers and coach Dan Eakin.