RCW: Sport Spotlight 4.25 (Softball)
KANSAS WINS!!! #RockChalk
— Kansas Softball (@KUSoftball) March 3, 2018
A post shared by Kansas Softball (@kusoftball) on Mar 3, 2018 at 9:06pm PST
On March 3 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, mentor met mentee during the Carolina Classic.
Kansas head coach Megan Smith returned to the campus of her undergraduate alma mater while leading the Jayhawks against the Tar Heels and her former coach and mentor — NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) hall of famer Donna J. Papa.
“It’s an honor to coach on the same field as her,” Smith said. “She’s a hall of famer. She’s my mentor. She’s a part of my family. It’s hard to play her, but I try to make her proud every day by what I do. Even though it was against them, I try to make her proud. It’s certainly an honor to play against her team.”
Since Smith’s arrival to Kansas for the 2010 season, the Jayhawks and Tar Heels have played twice. Kansas has won both games by one run, including an extra-inning 8-7 decision on UNC’s home field on Saturday. The first time Smith coached against her alma mater, KU defeated then-No. 25 UNC in Jacksonville on Feb. 11, 2011.
Smith, a native of Walkertown, North Carolina, graduated from UNC in 1999 and played for Coach Papa, who is in her 33rd season coaching the Tar Heels.
Primarily a third baseman in college, Smith served as captain her senior season and was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. Smith was also named to the ACC Honor Roll on three occasions and made the Dean’s List twice. Smith later coached with Papa during the 2004 season at UNC before accepting her first NCAA Division I head coaching job at Western Carolina in 2005.
With a 16-3 record, Kansas is off to one its best starts in recent history as one of four KU teams to reach 16 wins in 19 games since the Big 12 era began in 1996. The Jayhawks begin an 11-game homestand at Rock Chalk Park by hosting the Jayhawk Invitational this weekend, March 8-11, and the Rock Chalk Challenge next weekend, March 15-18.
MARCH IS KIDNEY CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Kidney Cancer Awareness month is March, and it has a special connection to the Kansas softball program. Coach Smith recently shared her story about how the disease has impacted her life in a self-written article on KCCure.org. Smith’s husband, Paul Buske, passed away from kidney cancer in June 2011 and is survived by Coach Smith and their son, Cooper.
KU’s annual Orange Game for kidney cancer awareness is Saturday, March 31 when the Jayhawks play host to Colorado State at Rock Chalk Park.