KU softball hosts annual media day event at Rock Chalk Park

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the 2017 season right around the corner, Kansas softball welcomed local media to its annual media day on Thursday afternoon. This year’s media-only event was held in the Jayhawks’ media room at Rock Chalk Park for the third year in row. Head coach Megan Smith and select student-athletes previewed the upcoming season with members of the media.
Smith is entering her eighth season at the helm of the Jayhawk softball program. She fields a roster that features 13 veterans, including six starters, and nine rookies in 2017. Adding to its strong group of returners, Kansas welcomes seven freshmen and two transfers.
Below are quotes from Smith, junior outfielder Erin McGinley, junior pitcher Sarah Miller, freshman infielder/catcher Becki Monaghan and sophomore pitcher Alexis Reid.
Head coach Megan Smith
On expectations for this year:
“Our returning players: Erin McGinley, Harli (Ridling), Jessie Roane, Taylor McElhaney and Lily Behrmann, they’re going to come in and they have always been pretty solid for us. They have tons of experience in big-time games, which is going to help. But we are going to have a lot of new faces out there, which is fun. It’s going to be maybe a little bit of a roller coaster ride, but that is how it is when you have a young team. That is an exciting thing and it is exciting to watch them grow and learn. They’ve already done so much learning and growing just being here for about six months. I anticipate that they are going to go out there and have a bunch of energy and work really hard. I’m excited to see those new players mesh with our experienced returning players.”
 Head coach Megan Smith at media day.
On the feelings of higher expectations:
“I think they understand that the standard is that we work hard and we go out there and do the best that we can. And more often than not I think that now that we have moved in to our new ball park we have to play to the level of our ballpark too. When you get great things, you have to do great things. And I think they understand that responsibility as well.”
On which newcomers she’s excited about:
“Becki Monaghan is a freshman from Canada. She can play behind the plate and she can also play first base. I think she is going to do some really special things here. And then we have Madison Sykes, who is an infielder and Courtney Taylor, who is an infielder. They will both see quite a bit of time and they’re both doing a great job at the plate and defensively. And then we have a transfer from Stephen F. Austin, Annie Mehringer, an outfielder. She had great success at Stephen F. Austin and has some really good experience. We’re going to look to her to add to our lineup.”
On the roster:
“(It’s a) totally different roster. We have some really strong returning players. We lost some really key pieces and it’s just been exciting to see all these new young players and our transfers come in and pick up where the seniors left off.”
On the Jayhawks’ 2017 schedule:
“We’re excited about our schedule. It’s a tough schedule with such a young team. It’s important that we prepare ourselves for Big 12 Conference play. We’re playing Nebraska out of conference; we’re playing LSU, who is a phenomenal team; we’ve got Tulsa on the schedule and James Madison. We’ve got some really good teams that we’re playing out of conference that are going to prepare us for Big 12 play. No question playing Oklahoma is a highlight. They’re the best team in the country, so that is always a fun thing.”
On starting the season with 21-straight road games:
“We’re used to it. We love going to Florida and getting the nice weather. I think it’s great to be on the road and our team is more focused on softball. We have them in a hotel, we’re doing video reviews and team meetings. We have more control over their time and they can devote more back to the game for preparing, as opposed to at home when they have other things going on. So it really is something we get used to and I feel like every year I’ve been here we have thrived on that and have done really well on the road.”
On the preseason Big 12 poll:
“I don’t make a big deal about it. They know. They look at social media and at the articles. I think that the polls in the preseason don’t mean much. It’s just an opinion at that point. We always have to go out there and prove that we belong.”   

Erin McGinley // Junior // Outfield
On filling voids that may be left from last year’s seniors:
“We definitely lost some strong players from last year offensively, but I think it has been fun seeing the freshmen and the transfers step into that role and take advantage of being able to compete for those spots offensively in the lineup. I think it is going to be very interesting to see how we play competitively against other teams now that season is around the corner. I think it is going to be a lot of fun to see who steps up and is ready to play in that position once the time comes.”
On the preseason Big 12 rankings:
“I think it definitely motivates all of us to try to prove them wrong and prove to them that we definitely deserve to be put higher in that ranking. It definitely drives us to continuously battle in the Big 12 because it is a very competitive conference. We just have to keep fighting for that higher ranking and show everyone what we are made of.”
Sarah Miller // Junior // Pitcher
On practice starting and getting back into the swing of things:
“We had a couple practices in Wichita, then came back here to Rock Chalk Park, but it has been a little cold so we have been inside. It has been nice because the pitchers came back a little early to get some work in and then the rest of the team joined us and we have been rolling ever since.”
On this time of the year and the new season approaching quickly:
“The anticipation is crazy right now. Coming back Jan. 6, Feb. 10 seemed so far away at the time, but now it is right around the corner and we are ready to get out there.”
On traveling to Florida for the first weekend:
“I think I am excited for a little bit of everything – getting back on the field, the weather. I think we are most excited to just get out there and compete against different teams. We’ve been playing intrasquad scrimmages, so I think just playing against different competition and going out and winning games is what everyone is most excited about.”
On personal and team goals for this season:
“I think the biggest team goal for us this year is to make the postseason. That is one of our main goals, especially competing in conference, because we are in a bigger conference so it is really important for us to go out and make it to the postseason.”
Becki Monaghan // Freshman // Catcher
On the excitement of the upcoming season:
“I think it is going to be a lot of fun. I am most excited for two things really. First, the experience being a freshman, I’m not really sure what I am looking for so I am excited to see what it is like, traveling all the time, having hard competition. Also, to see how we are as a family. The last month has been incredible, everyone has been getting close and we are beginning to trust each other. I think that is really going to transfer over into playing. I am really excited to see how that goes.”
On the difference between club softball in Canada and softball at the Division I level:
“Definitely the competition and the intensity are a lot higher, but I love it. Back home there were great teams, but there wasn’t as much of a drive. I am really happy to be around people who makes this their life and puts everything they have into it. It really inspires me to work harder.”
Alexis Reid // Sophomore // Pitcher
On having her sister on the team:
“We’re very close, we do everything together. We’re inseparable, people always ask us how we don’t argue. Growing up, we were told that we are the only people that we have, so we just try to utilize each other’s talents when we play with each other.”
On the roster turnover:
“I think that we’re all excited to see the changes this year. We have such good chemistry, so I’m excited to see everyone come together as a team.”
On adding new pitches to her repertoire:
“Adding another pitch will let other teams know that I don’t just go downhill, I can go uphill and change speed.”
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