Kansas Softball Gearing Up for 2015 Season
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Coming off of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006, Kansas softball is looking to make another postseason run in 2015. Just a month away from the start of the new season, the Jayhawks have returned to campus to begin preparation for competition.
The Jayhawk pitchers and catchers reported first, while the rest of the team joined a couple days later for fitness test and team meetings. KU spent the initial days back on campus participating in The Program, which is a team leadership building activity. After finishing The Program, the Jayhawks will head to Wichita for a preseason camp, which will wrap up on Saturday.
“We’re excited to be back as a team and working hard to prepare for our season,” head coach Megan Smith said. “We’ve spent the last couple of days working with The Program and it was a great experience for our team. I feel like our team grew closer together and we are all focused on our goals as we prepare for our first tournament in Florida.”
Smith, who is entering her sixth season at the helm of the Jayhawk softball program, guided Kansas to the program’s 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014 and best RPI score (39) during her tenure. She fields a roster that features 13 veterans, including six starters, and nine rookies. KU is led by captains Chaley Brickey, Chanin Naudin, Alicia Pille and Maddie Stein.
The Jayhawks return two all-conference performers from last season in Brickey and Stein, who were named All-Big 12 Second Team and All-Big 12 Defensive Team, respectively. Brickey, a junior shortstop from Haltom City, Texas, led KU after hitting .365 in 2014 with a total of 58 hits, including 19 doubles, 12 home runs and 41 RBIs. The two-time All-Big 12 selection set a new single-season record after tallying 42 walks to surpass Tracy Bunge’s previous record of 35 set in 1985. A two-time captain for KU, Stein was one of four Jayhawks to hit above .300 last season. She batted .358 with a team-leading 69 hits, including 13 doubles, a triple, a home run and 40 RBIs. The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma native is closing in on Kansas’ all-time RBI record and will surpass Maggie Hull with 32 RBIs.
Seniors Pille and Naudin, who each earned All-Big 12 Academic honors, return to the Jayhawks’ lineup in 2015. Pille, a right-handed pitcher from Royse City, Texas, compiled a 12-7 mark in the circle in 2014 and posted the lowest ERA amongst KU’s pitching staff with a 2.38 ERA. She struck out 130 batters and recorded her first career no-hitter against Jackson State. A Princeton, Texas native, Naudin has been a permanent fixture at third base for Kansas the past three seasons. During her junior campaign, Naudin hit .258 with 49 hits and 24 runs scored. She led the squad with 14 doubles and drove in 24 runs.
Adding to its strong group of returners, Kansas welcomes seven freshmen (Morgan Bohanan, INF, Goddard, Kansas; Daniella Chavez, INF, Crowley, Texas; Bryn Houlton, P, Savanna, Oklahoma; Erin McGinley, OF, Prairie Village, Kansas; Amanda Organ, INF, Houston, Texas; Jessie Roane, C/INF, Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Mikayla Warren, OF, Olathe, Kansas) and two transfers (Briana Evans, OF, Ball State; Monique Wesley, P, CSU-Fullerton).
Kansas opens the 2015 season against LIU-Brooklyn at the Florida Atlantic Tournament on Feb. 6, the first of 25 road games before opening the home portion of the schedule against Northern Colorado in the Jayhawk Invitational on March 13. All KU home games will be played at the new Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. Season and single game ticket information, as well as promotions, will be released soon.
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