🥎 Kansas Heads to UCF for First Big 12 Series

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks will play in its first Big 12 Conference series of the 2024 season as they take on Big 12 newcomer UCF (12-7) in a three-game series from March 8-10 at UCF Softball Complex in Orlando, Florida. This will be Kansas’ fifth weekend road trip in as many days.

Last week, Kansas took the trip to Tennessee to take on Austin Peay and Belmont. To begin the trip, KU defeated Austin Peay 5-2 on leap day. Kansas concluded its trip with back-to-back wins at Belmont in a doubleheader. In the first game, Belmont took Kansas all the way to eight innings before Lyric Moore hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the eighth. In the second game, Kansas scored five runs off just three hits thanks to a career-first grand slam by Hailey Cripe.

Kansas hosted its home opener against Creighton on March 5. The Jayhawks defeated the Bluejays 8-0 to force the run-rule victory in six innings as they extend KU’s winning streak to 10. That is the longest win-streak for the program since March 7-22, 2015, the same year Kansas last made the NCAA Tournament. In the first RPI ranking of the season, Kansas earned a ranking of 34. The Jayhawk’s most notable win before this was against No. 18/17 Texas A&M, when KU handed the Aggies their first loss of the season in College Station.

Kansas is currently led by a trio of sophomores in Presley Limbaugh, Aynslee Linduff and Campbell Bagshaw. All three are the only Jayhawks with a batting average above the .350 mark, as Limbaugh leads the team with 22 hits and an on-base percentage of .542. Cripe leads the squad with 18 RBI, including her first career grand slam at Belmont on March 2. Bagshaw  has come into her own this season after only seeing a few innings last season. She has solidified herself in the starting lineup and has amassed a batting average of .370. Linduff has started all but one game this season. She hit her first home run of the season to help lift Kansas over Belmont 5-4 on March 2.

Left-handed pitcher Kasey Hamilton has had a successful start to her 2024 campaign. After getting tough matchups to start the season, Hamilton has bounced back with four-straight complete-game shutouts and has thrown 28.0 consecutive scoreless innings. She leads the team with 45 strikeouts in 55.1 innings pitched and her four shutouts lead the Big 12 and are the tied for the third-most in the country. This season, she has allowed just 19 runs and an opponent batting average of .204.

Backing her up is right-hander Katie Brooks who is in her junior season. Brooks has earned a 6-0 record in 39.1 innings pitched. One of her bests performances came against UTSA on Feb. 23, when she struck out 10 batters in just five innings of action. She has the best ERA (1.78) of pitchers with substantial innings pitched and has struck out more batters than innings pitched, 40 to 39.1.

Kansas and UCF have met four times in the past with the series being tied at 2-2. The Jayhawks and the Knights most recently faced off in 2014. The most recent win for Kansas against UCF came on Feb. 10, 2008, when the Jayhawks walked away with a 6-0 victory in Orlando.

Fans can stream all three games of the series via Big 12 NOW on ESPN+. Fans are also encouraged to follow along live statistics, or follow the official Kansas Softball X Account for live updates throughout each contest.

Kansas will host its second and third games at Arrocha Ballpark as it takes on in-state foe Wichita State in a doubleheader on March 12 with first pitch set for 3 p.m. CT. Last season, the Jayhawks and the Shockers split two games with both teams winnings its home games in the series.