2014 Softball Season Outlook: Infield
Returning: Senior Ashley Newman, juniors Chanin Naudin and Maddie Stein, sophomores Chaley Brickey and Kylee Kennedy
New: Freshmen Taylor McElhaney and Lily Behrmann
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just days away from the start of the 2014 season, Kansas softball will preview each position in a four-part series. The first installment of the 2014 season outlook includes KU’s infield.
The Jayhawk defense is shaping up to be Kansas’ biggest strength in 2014 as the infield brings back the most experience. KU’s infield returns 3-of-4 starters from last season to the 2014 the lineup. The talented infield group is led by senior Ashley Newman, along with junior Chanin Naudin and sophomore Chaley Brickey.
Newman is set to play her final season for the Crimson and Blue at second base and has been the most consistent defender for the Jayhawks. In 45 starts last season, Newman committed only four errors and in her last 98 appearances totaled just six errors. Newman hit .331 with a double and three triples in 2013. Also a threat on the bases, Newman successfully stole 9-of-10 attempts as a junior.
Rounding out the middle infield is 2013 All-Big 12 Second Team selection Brickey. She started 48 out of 50 games last season and hit an impressive .318 in conference action. On the season she batted .297, recording 12 doubles and four home runs along with 24 RBIs. With a year of collegiate experience now under her belt, Brickey has stepped up both offensively and defensively as well emerging as a leader.
The final returning starter in the infield is Naudin at third base, who continues to dominate as one of the top defenders on KU’s roster. Offensively, the junior was one of seven Jayhawks to hit over .300 in 2013 and helped Kansas claim the 2013 National Batting Title. Naudin recorded seven doubles and seven home runs during her sophomore year.
Stein, who made a few appearances at first base last season, will spend more time at first base in her junior campaign. She has improved her footwork and quickness during the offseason and is ready to make an impact at first base. A year ago, Stein hit .337 with 10 doubles and two home runs. She led the team with 49 RBIs and was one of three Jayhawks to record 40 or more RBIs.
Adding depth to the infield is sophomore Kylee Kennedy and freshmen Taylor McElhaney and Lily Behrmann. Kennedy drilled a pinch-hit two-run home run in her first at-bat of 2013. She recorded six RBIs on the season. McElhaney, a Talala, Okla., native joins the middle infield, while Behrmann, who hails from Overland Park, Kan., could see some innings at first base. McElhaney earned all-state honors en route to helping Oologah-Talala High School to a state championship as a senior. Behrmann earned several all-conference honors throughout her high school career at Blue Valley West.
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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