KU Softball Holds Annual Media Day

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A little over two weeks away from opening day and Kansas softball hosted its annual media day on Thursday afternoon. Head coach Megan Smith and select student-athletes were available to speak to the media for the first time to preview the upcoming season.
Below are quotes from Smith, senior outfielder/pitcher Alex Jones, junior utility Maddie Stein, sophomore infielder Chaley Brickey and sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler.
Kansas Head Coach Megan Smith

On who takes on a leadership role for the team:
“Alex Jones is our captain and she’s been here for five years now. She tore her ACL a couple years ago and missed a season, but I told her I was grateful because we would get her for another year. We are really thankful we get her for an extra season because she is our leader on the field in regards to work ethic, attitude and performance. Kelsey Kessler is obviously a leader for us because of how talented she is as a pitcher on the field. Chaley Brickey and Maddie Stien are both vocal leaders for us. Chanin Naudin is a leader with her solid play, too.”

On Alex Jones’ role:
“It will be just like last year, pitcher, center field, lead-off batter. It’s rare that someone can handle both of those roles. She is a hard worker and has great attention to detail. She’s also a perfectionist, which sometimes is a bad thing. But for the most part, it has been great for her. She wants to do all of that. She is passionate about pitching, being on the field and hitting. She fits everywhere naturally.”

On team goals:
“Our goal is to make it to postseason. That has been our goal for the last two years and I think we have been really close to that accomplishment. We want to get out there this year and prove that we belong.”

On non-conference games:
“I think we need to take care of the teams we are supposed to take care of. If you let a few games slip, that will hurt us in the end. I think we had some good wins last year and did really well in our conference with finishing fourth and beating OU. We have to make sure we take care of the games we are supposed to take care of and put all of our energy and effort into those. It’s easy to look ahead to the Oklahoma or Ole Miss games, but we need to take care of every team that we play. We are going to make that a goal this year.”

Alex Jones // Senior // Pitcher/Outfielder
On the Oklahoma Win and how it carries over to this season:
“The Oklahoma win was awesome. That was one of those things where you play a program like that and you see they end up winning the Women’s College World Series it gives you a lot of momentum going into this year. It keeps our hopes high even though we lost our power which was a lot of people’s concern. We were however able to gain utilities this year to replace that. I am very excited and I am confident that the win gave us more momentum for this year.”
Maddie Stein // Junior // Utility

On the week down in Florida:
“I definitely think it’s a great week. Even though camp is a grind, you are so excited and so close to the season. You get to see all of your teammates together and you are all going through it all together. Not only is it a good week to get the practice in, but it’s a good week to get to know each other.”
On moving forward after losing the seniors:
“I definitely think it will take all of us to be good, which is part of softball and being a team. You always have to have all nine players playing well. The special thing about the girls who left our team last year is the impact that they left on our program. They were the types of leaders that left the younger girls with the knowledge to develop their own skills. While they did leave, they left enough for us to carry on what they started.”
On her reaction of being fourth in the Big 12 Preseason Polls:
“My first reaction is to step back and see what we have all done to move Kansas softball up from last to fourth. It is a really exciting thing and I definitely think we have the ability to finish higher than predicted. It is, however, a big complement to our program to be put where we were.”
Chaley Brickey // Sophomore // Infielder

On how she is improved in the offseason:
“I’m pretty prepared knowing what I am going into this season. I have been able to change my work ethics during practice. I know now what I need to focus on more such as pitch selection. I realized now that my selection is just as important as the technique that I pitch with.”
On whom their biggest competitor is in the Big XII:
“I think our biggest competitor is Baylor. We saw how we played against them last year and I think we will be fine when we play them. We are a better team and I think we are going to show it this year.”
Kelsey Kessler // Sophomore // Pitcher
On describing her offseason and some of the advances she made compared to last season:
“We had a good season last year, but we still didn’t make our goal of making the postseason. So we came back and worked hard all fall and I think we made great strides as a team. Hopefully we can accomplish that goal this year.”
On how the team is going to fill the offensive holes of players that graduated this past season:
“There are huge holes to fill but I have confidence that our girls have made huge improvements just from August to December to January where we are now. We are going to rely a lot more on defense than we did on offense last year, but we will find a way to make it work because we are a lot scrappier than we were.”
On the new look of the team and what she is going to say to the young players:
“It is a completely new team which is tough going into every year, seeing so many new faces, but the new girls are very excited to be here. They are ready to work and we have a lot of talent and with great leadership from A.J. (Alex Jones) and Maddie (Stein) and our seniors like Nikki (Bruce) and Ashley (Newman). I think we will mesh well.”
KU softball opens the 2014 season on Feb. 7 at Central Florida and will spend the first five weeks of the season on the road before hosting the Jayhawk Invitational March 14-16 at Arrocha Ballpark.
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