Kansas Softball Kicks Off 2015 in Florida
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball heads south to Florida for its first tournament of the 2015 season and will play five games in three days, including contests against opponents from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten. The Jayhawks open the season at the Florida Atlantic Kickoff Classic with LIU-Brooklyn on Friday, Feb. 6 at 8:30 a.m. The contest marks the first of a 25-game stretch away from Lawrence for KU. Kansas will also face Georgia Tech, Arkansas, FAU and Penn State at FAU Softball Stadium.
FOLLOWING THE JAYHAWKS
Listen to every pitch, home and away, all season long as part of the Jayhawk Radio Network in partnership with KJHK, the University of Kansas’ student radio station. For the first time ever, all of KU’s contests will be carried live, for free, at KUAthletics.com/radio or by clicking the links on the online schedule. Fans can also get in-game updates via twitter by following @KUsoftball.
LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- Reaching the 30-win plateau is becoming a regular occurrence for head coach Megan Smith and the Jayhawks after recording a 34-23 mark in 2014. Kansas has posted four-straight 30-win seasons during the Smith-era.
- Smith has guided the Jayhawks to an upset over at least one nationally-ranked opponent in each of her five seasons at the helm of Kansas softball. In 2014, KU defeated three ranked foes. Most recently, the Jayhawks were victorious over then-No. 19 Nebraska in the first game of the NCAA Tournament.
- The Jayhawks return 13 veterans from last season’s NCAA Tournament roster. The returning Jayhawks accounted for 65 percent of the runs scored, 63 percent of hits recorded and an impressive 76 percent of runs batted in during the 2014 campaign.
- Four Jayhawks hit above .300 last season, including junior shortstop Chaley Brickey, who led KU in almost every offensive statistical category. She led the squad in runs scored (43), home runs (12), RBIs (41), walks (42), slugging percentage (.654) and on-base percentage (.502).
- Kansas had two earn All-Big 12 honorees at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season. Junior Chaley Brickey was selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while senior Maddie Stein was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Brickey was also named to the NFCA All-Region team.
- Five Jayhawks earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2014. Alex Jones earned her third first-team honor, while Maddie Stein earned her second first-team honor. Chanin Naudin earned academic honors from the Big 12 for the second-straight year. Alicia Pille and Nikki Bruce earned their first career Big 12 academic accolades.
- For four-straight weeks during the 2014 season a Jayhawk was honored with Big 12 Player/Pitcher of the Week honors. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler, sophomore infielder Chaley Brickey, junior pitcher Alicia Pille and freshman catcher Harli Ridling all earned Big 12 weekly honors in 2014. Pille earned her second Big 12 weekly honor April 13, which is the fifth weekly honor in 2014 and the most in a single season for KU softball.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas is coming off another successful season in 2014 that was capped off by the Jayhawks’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. It also marked the first postseason appearance under head coach Megan Smith, who also guided KU to its best RPI mark (39) since 2008. In 2015, Smith fields a roster that features 13 veterans, including six starters. Adding to its strong group of returners, Kansas welcomes seven freshmen and two transfers.
The Jayhawks are led by veterans and team captains Chaley Brickey, Chanin Naudin, Alicia Pille and Maddie Stein. The captains combined have an overall record of 75-39 in the past two seasons and helped guide KU back to the NCAA Tournament last spring. Aside from the many achievements on the field, the captain corps also takes care of business in the classroom and are active members of the Jayhawk and Lawrence communities.
Brickey, a junior shortstop, led the squad in seven offensive categories last season, including a .365 batting average, 12 home runs, 41 RBIs and 42 walks. Brickey earned All-Big 12 Second Team accolades for the second year in a row and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region honors. A two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection, Naudin started every game except two in 2014 at third base. The senior hit .258 with 40 hits, including a team-high 15 double.
Pille, a 2014 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, went 12-7 in the circle last year with 130 strikeouts and six shutouts in 129.2 innings of work. The senior pitcher tossed her first career no-hitter against Jackson State on Feb. 22 last season. Stein, a senior from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, started every game in 2014. She hit .358 with 13 doubles and 40 RBIs. Stein’s list of accolades in 2014 included NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete honors, Academic All-Big 12 and All-Big 12 Defensive Team honors.
SCOUTING THE BLACKBIRDS
LIU Brooklyn, who advanced to its third-straight Northeast Conference Tournament final a season ago, will play in six different non-conference tournaments to start its 2015 campaign. The Blackbirds concluded the 2014 season with 22-34 overall mark and 9-7 record in conference play good for fourth place. Junior Whitney West, who was one of two All-NEC Second Team honorees for LIU in 2014, returns to the diamond as the Blackbirds’ biggest offensive threat after hitting .317 last season with 60 hits, 29 runs scored, four triples and 10 RBIs. West is one of 13 veterans on the Blackbirds squad in 2015. Sophomore Shelley Procter returns to LIU Brooklyn’s lineup with the most innings in the circle. During her freshman campaign, Procter posted a 3.58 ERA with a 13-17 record and a team-leading 112 strikeouts.
Collectively, the Blackbirds hit .240 last season with 349 hits, 64 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs and 132 RBIs. LIU Brooklyn recorded 32 steals in 44 attempts and West stole 17 of those bases. The Blackbirds’ pitching staff recorded a 3.82 ERA with 239 strikeouts and 15 complete games.
SCOUTING THE YELLOW JACKETS
The Georgia Tech is coming off of a 23-24 overall record and was 11-17 in Atlantic Coast Conference play in 2014. With 11 total letterwinners returning, the Jackets were picked to finish eighth in the ACC preseason poll. Junior Maddie Lionberger, who was selected to the 2014 All-ACC First Team, is one of GT’s biggest returning offensive keys. She hit .325 and drove in 31 RBIs, which was second on the team. Senior Kylie Kleinschmidt will be returning on the rubber this season. She tossed a team-best 2.77 ERA as a junior.
Six Yellow Jacket hitters posted above .300 batting average in 2014, which contributed to the team hitting .297. Offensively, the Jackets tallied 365 hits, 210 RBIs and a .447 slugging percentage. In the circle, Georgia Tech’s pitching staff hurled a 4.24 ERA with 230 strikeouts.
SCOUTING THE RAZORBACKS
Arkansas finished the 2014 season with 27-28 overall mark and went 5-19 in SEC play. Looking to lead the way this year are seniors Kasey Fagan and Devon Wallace. Both received NFCA All-Region Second Team accolades in 2014, while Wallace also received All-SEC second team honors. In the circle, the Razorbacks lost Kimmy Beasley, but returns sophomore Grace Moll, who carried the majority of the load during the 2013 season. Last spring, Moll posted a 10-7 record with a 3.84 ERA.
Arkansas missed out on the postseason in 2014, but did have a record setting year. The Razorbacks set or tied eight single-season program records, seven of which were set the year prior. Together, the Razorbacks hit .304 with a slugging percentage of .484, 325 RBIs and 231 walks. Arkansas’ pitching staff posted a 4.70 ERA with 221 strikeouts.
SCOUTING THE OWLS
Florida Atlantic University went 33-22 last year and returns a majority of that experience this season. The Owls welcome back their entire pitching staff, which includes senior Samantha Messer, who named Preseason Conference USA Pitcher of the Year. A first-team all-conference selection last year, junior Christina Martinez hit .360 during her sophomore campaign and is expected to set the tone for the Owls’ offense.
Tying for third in Conference USA last season, the Owls hit .258 as a team which included 375 hits, 170 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .339. FAU’s experienced pitching staff posted a combined 1.76 ERA and totaled 233 strikeouts.
SCOUTING THE NITTANY LIONS
The Penn State Nittany Lions will be playing their 50th anniversary season in 2015. In 2014, the Lions concluded the season with a 14-35 overall record and 5-18 mark in Big Ten play. Junior Lexi Knief was selected to USA Softball’s Players Top-50 list prior to the start of the year. Last season, she hit .372, with a .513 slugging percent, and was perfect in the field with 71 chances. In the circle, the Lions return their top two pitchers with most innings pitched, sophomore Marlaina Laubach and junior Macy Jones, who posted 3.64 and 5.35 ERAs, respectively.
In head coach Amanda Lehotak’s inaugural season, Penn State collectively hit .246 with 304 hits, 153 RBIs and recorded a .341 slugging percentage. Penn State’s pitching staff compiled a 5.39 ERA, 177 strikeouts and 151 walks.
Record vs. LIU Brooklyn
Kansas leads the overall series, 1-0. KU defeated the Blackbirds, 6-0, in the first meeting of the series last season in Tampa, Florida.
Record vs. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets have 3-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Jayhawks. KU won the last meeting in 2011, 3-2.
Record vs. Arkansas
The Jayhawks are 16-7 against th Razorbacks, a series that started in 1997 with a KU win, 3-0. From 2003-07, Kansas had a nine-game winning streak.
Record vs. FAU
The series with the Owls is tied 1-1 after meeting on the diamond only twice in program history. KU won the last meeting, 10-0, in 2013.
Record vs. Penn State
Kansas leads the all-time series 2-0, a series that began in 1991. The last meeting between the two programs was in 2003 and resulted in a 4-2 KU win.
PRODUCTIVE VETERANS RETURN TO THE DIAMOND
Kansas welcomes back 13 veterans to the diamond that were on last year’s NCAA Tournament roster. Among those retuning are two of KU’s biggest offensive threats, junior shortstop Chaley Brickey and senior utility Maddie Stein. The duo were two of four Jayhawks to hit over .300 throughout the 2014 season. Kansas returns experience that can produce big numbers offensively. The Jayhawks that return in 2015 were responsible for 65 percent of runs scored, 63 percent of hits recorded and 76 percent of runs batted in.
JAYHAWKS Tabbed TO FINISH FIFTH IN CONFERENCE RACE
Kansas softball was selected to finish the 2015 conference slate in fifth place as voted on by the Big 12 head coaches. The reigning Big 12 Champion and Women’s College World Series participant, Oklahoma, was selected to finish first in conference action after garnering six-of-seven first-place votes and a total of 36 points. Baylor, who also advanced to the 2014 Women’s College Series, received the seventh first-place vote and was tabbed to finish second in the league with 30 points. Texas claimed the third spot tallying 27 points, while Oklahoma State received 19 points and was selected in fourth place. Kansas (17), Iowa State (9) and Texas Tech (9) rounded out the preseason poll.
SMITH NEARING WIN NO. 200
Kansas head softball coach Megan Smith is eight victories away from her 200th Division I career win. She is set to embark on her seventh season as a Division I coach and has posted a 192-136 mark in that time span. In five seasons at Kansas, Smith has a 151-116 record and is 49 victories away from her 200th win at the helm of Kansas’ program.
The Jayhawks have lined up another loaded schedule for 2015 featuring eight opponents who competed in the 2014 postseason. In addition to squaring off with eight teams who advanced to the postseason, the Jayhawks will also face three programs that competed in the Women’s College World Series last season. Two of the three WCWS participants are members of the Big 12, while the third is the defending national champion, Florida. For the second year in a row, KU will face the defending national champion when the Jayhawks travel to Florida early in the season.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
While Kansas will play its most home games (22) since 2009, the Jayhawks open the season on the road and will play the first five weeks of the 2015 campaign away from Lawrence. KU will play a total of 25-straight games on the road before making its debut in Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park on March 13. Last year, the Jayhawks were 24-19 either on the road or on a neutral diamond.
The Jayhawks head west for the Troy Cox Classic hosted by New Mexico State in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The three-day tournament spans Feb. 13-15 and features KU, NMSU, Bradley and Weber State. Every game will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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