2017 Kansas Softball Season Outlook: Senior Class
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just one day away from the start of the 2017 season, Kansas softball will wrap up its preview of each class with the final installment of the 2017 season outlook featuring Kansas’ senior class.
Entering its final year with the Kansas softball program, the senior class brings not only experience, but leadership, to head coach Megan Smith’s 2017 roster.
“Our senior class is a group of awesome people,” said Smith. “They are great players, don’t get me wrong, but in terms of the type of people they are – they exemplify the ‘Jayhawk Way,’ every single one of them. That’s a huge thing for our program to make sure that we have good players, but good people too and the senior class represents that extremely well.”
This season, Smith’s roster features four seniors that touch every part of the field with an outfielder, a pitcher and a pair of infielders.
“The seniors are selfless people and are in it for the team,” Smith said. “They are in it for Kansas – every single one of them – and that is hard to find in an entire class. It’s been an honor to coach them and watch them grow and develop as players and people.”
2017 senior class
A three-year starter for the Jayhawks, Lily Behrmann appeared in 40 games last season and made 36 starts as the designated player or in the outfield. She hit .220 in 2016 with 22 runs scored and 15 RBIs. Behrmann totaled 22 hits, including a double and four home runs, while drawing 21 walks, moving into eighth place on KU’s all-time walks list with 79 career base on balls.
“Lily is someone that we are going to count on offensively and defensively,” said Smith. “Offensively, she is a big threat at the plate. She hits for power or can drop a bunt and use her speed. She can also slap and is very good at situational hitting. We are going to look for her to spark our offense, which she has done before so it’s not anything new for her. She’s our most experienced outfielder, so it’s going to be fun to see her out there again. Lily is a steady player for us and we look forward to that consistency from her this year.”
A 2016 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Taylor Dodson appeared in 27 games and made 13 starts as a junior. She was used primarily as a designated player, but also saw action at third base. Dodson batted .184 last spring with nine hits, nine runs scored and 14 RBIs. She registered a .449 slugging percentage and a .322 on-base percentage.
“Doddy is our energy, she brings a lot of energy to our team and always has during her years here,” Smith said. “She has played every single year and has been in and out of the starting lineup. She’s had more of a role one year than the next in terms of playing, but she she’s always been a huge part of the team culture and our energy during games. As a senior, she’s seeing time at a lot of different infield positions. Doddy is a good example of no matter what your role is, you need to work hard and have a positive attitude and she’s done that. We root for her as a staff because she always comes to practice and works hard, with good energy and a positive attitude, whether she’s a starter or not. She always gives a 100 percent effort and that hasn’t changed during her four years at KU. We’re hoping she can find a spot in our lineup and do really well her senior year.”
Also named to the 2016 Academic All-Big 12 First Team, Taylor McElhaney started all 51 games at second base last season. She batted .235 with 24 hits, 20 runs scored and 10 RBIs. McElhaney led the squad in hit-by-pitches with 15, while registering a .265 slugging percentage and a .397 on-base percentage. During Big 12 Conference play, McElhaney hit .314 with 11 base knocks.
“Taylor came in as a shortstop and we had some other needs, which she filled in centerfield and at second base,” said Smith. “Moving her to shortstop was always the plan and we knew it was going to happen. She’s practiced a lot at shortstop through the years so this isn’t a new position for her. She has always looked awesome at that position, so for her it’s back to her natural position. Defensively, she’s our go to. She’s always been steady and always made the plays, she’s been extremely effective for us defensively and we anticipate that will be the case again. She’s a great example of being a team player and being an unselfish leader. She has always put the team before herself.”
Last season, Sophia Templin appeared in seven games and made one start. She tossed a total of 13 and two-thirds innings with a 7.17 ERA, while striking out 12 batters. She struck out a season-high five batters against Oklahoma State (5/6). As a sophomore, Templin made two starts and 19 appearances in the circle. She recorded a team-best 2.95 ERA with a 5-2 mark in 42 and two-third innings of work.
“Sophia is very unique as a pitcher and is completely different from the other pitchers on our staff,” Smith said. “Typically, her effectiveness is coming into a game and changing the pace, which we will see her do again. Two years ago she had an unbelievable season in doing that and we’re hoping that we can get back to that point because she has some great off-speed pitches and spins the balls really well. If she can come in and fool the other team for a couple of innings that’s big and that’s what her role is going to be.”
In 2017, KU returns six starters and 13 letterwinners from last season, while welcoming nine newcomers, including a pair of transfers. Among those returning is All-Big 12 Freshman Team member Alexis Reid, who posted a victory in the circle over nationally-ranked Oklahoma on the road last spring.
Kansas softball opens its 2017 campaign in Florida at the Stetson Tournament, Feb. 10-12. The Jayhawks will play a total of five games during the first weekend of the year against Akron, Savannah State and Stetson.
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