KU Softball Welcomes Reporters to Rock Chalk Park

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the 2016 season right around the corner, Kansas softball hosted its annual media day on Thursday afternoon. This year’s media-only event was held in the Jayhawks’ media room at Rock Chalk Park for the second year in row. Head coach Megan Smith and select student-athletes previewed the upcoming season with members of the media.
Smith, who is entering her seventh season at the helm of the Jayhawk softball program, guided Kansas to its second-straight postseason appearance and best RPI score (23) during her tenure in 2015. She fields a roster that features 15 veterans, including eight starters, and eight rookies in 2016. Adding to its strong group of returners, Kansas welcomes six freshmen and two transfers.
Below are quotes from Smith, seniors Chaley Brickey and Briana Evans, junior Sophia Templin, sophomore Daniella Chavez and freshman Alexis Reid.
Head Coach Megan Smith
On building off of last season’s performance:
“I think (last season’s performance) is fresh in everyone’s minds. The difference is we have a lot of new players that didn’t live that. Obviously, they’ve seen highlight videos and we talk about our high goals and high expectations, but it’s a totally different team now, which is exciting.”

On the returning players:
“We have some good returning players who have done some really big things for us; (sophomore infielder) Daniella Chavez, (senior infielder) Chaley Brickey, (sophomore catcher) Jessie Roane and (senior outfielder) Brianna Evans. We’ve got a great group and we’re just excited to add new talent to that and see what happens.”
On the young pitching rotation:
“Pitching is definitely going to be different. When you have someone like Alicia Pille for four years you know what you’re getting and how solid she is, she had an awesome career here. It is exciting to see what will happen with these new girls, I had the same thing happen four years ago when Pille was a freshman and now we’re going to do the same thing with Alexis Reid and see what she does. We’re really excited about her talent, effort and energy, and we’re excited to see what she can do.”
On how she’ll handle the pitching staff:
“I think we’ll mix them quite a bit. They work really well together and complement each other really well. (sophomore pitcher Sophia Templin) comes with a lot of great experience and we’ll look to her to bring that experience to the staff. We also have a transfer who threw a lot of innings at Virginia last year and she was the main pitcher. So she’s been through it and that’s a great thing to add to our pitching rotation. I think early on we’re going to see how they work together and who steps up.”
On Kansas voted fourth in the preseason Big 12 poll:
“Well, we finished fifth last year and we won 40 games so that sounds good. To finish fourth in the Big 12 is about as difficult as winning 40 games and going to the Super Regional. The Big 12 is a difficult conference, so I think fourth is a goal of ours and it is going to be a tough goal but we’d certainly love to be in that position at the end of the season.”
On replicating last year’s 12-0 start:
Non-conference does lay the foundation for us in terms of our RPI and where we’re standing as we go into conference play. I wish we could repeat (last year’s start), but you can’t bottle it up and drag it back out. We’re going to work very hard every game, we’re going to fight until the end of every game. Last season we won a lot of one-run games in non-conference and we won pretty much all of them, and that is difficult to do. We hope our kids have the same mentality that we did last year of, ‘we’re going to fight to the very end no matter what.’ If we do that we’re going to come out pretty well.”
On building off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances:
“We’ve taken steps forward every single year, last year we were in a regional final and this year we’d love to win that regional final. I think that’s our goal no matter who we’ve lost or who we have and we’re going to work towards that. I think that our veteran players really believe that we can do that and they know we can, we were close last year. I think that with the influx of new, very talented players we’re going to keep that as our goal and hope that it happens.”
On opening against a tough opponent (NC State):
“I think it’s going to be a very good first two tournaments for us. We’re going to play two really tough tournaments. NC State is going to be a really tough test. They were a Super Regional team last year, they’ve been great over the last few years, so that’s going to give us an indication of where we stack up early. The rest of the teams we play those next two weekends, they’re all tough teams so we’re really going to get a good idea of how tough our team is once we’re done with those two weekends.”
On opening with a 19-game road trip:
We’re used to (playing on the road). I think we’re a good road team. We play well on the road because we’re used to it so much it becomes comfortable. We’ve just got to get in that groove and we’ll start to get in that groove next Thursday.”
Chaley Brickey // Senior // Infield
On the team heading into the start of the season:
“I’ve never seen our team as close as this season. Our season starts next week and I’ve never seen our team this excited before.”
On if this year’s team will be as good as last year’s team:
I think we will be close to last year’s team. We have new pitchers on our staff, who are all very different in the circle. It’s not a lot of the same pitching and it’s all aspects of the game. Offensively, I think with our new hitting coach he’s going to bring a lot to the table.
On if pitching is the biggest question mark this year:
“I don’t think it’s necessarily the pitching because Coach Butler does a great job. It will be more defensively because we lost Chanin Naudin at third and Maddie Stein at first, so that is something that the infield will have to adjust to.”
On starting her senior season:
“It’s crazy, this season got here kind of fast and I don’t know if I am ready for it to be my senior season. I am really excited to see what this team has.”
On what the team has been working on leading up to the season:
“Coach Hubbard has brought a lot to us with analyzing more pitchers and figuring out what they throw before we see them. With our hitting we are constantly seeing live pitchers, so that is really helpful. It’s also different from what we’ve done in the past.”
On what she’s most excited about the upcoming season:
“Seeing us all together on the field. We’ve played against each other for a long time and getting to see us all together will be great.”
Briana Evans // Senior // Outfield
On how practices have been going so far:
“Practices have been pretty intense. We’ve been going for a month now and there’s been multiple practices in a day. So our week before school started, we were having three-a-days and it’s been very intense to get ready for the season.”
On the difference in roles for the current seniors:
“We’ve had to step into more of a leadership role because we lost our senior class last year and they were the epitome of leadership, so we’ve had to pick up that slack.”
On last year’s start to the season and how important it was for the team:
“That start was very important for us. It gave us a lot of confidence that we didn’t really know we had, so I think it gave us that confidence that we are capable of a lot more than people think and what we think.”
On how the team came repeat a start like last season’s:
“I think we just focus on the little things and doing those things right – not trying to think too much into the future and really just be in the present.”
On Big 12 play and being ranked fourth in the preseason polls:
“I think if we concentrate on doing the little things right, then everything else will take care of itself.”
On improving from last year’s Big 12 play:
“We need to do our best at making sure there are no weekends where we get swept and take care of the big teams as well as the teams we need to take care of.”
On starting her senior season:
“A lot of emotions, I am excited and kind of sad, but mainly ready to go.”
On what she’s most excited about this season:
“I am the most excited about being able to enjoy playing and being a college athlete for the last time.”
On what the team has been working on leading up to the season:
“We’ve been focusing a lot on offense and getting our new technique down with Coach Hubbard. His technique is very different from anything we’ve ever learned, so we are starting to get the hang of that and looking really good.”
Sophia Templin // Junior // Pitcher
On being a veteran on the pitching staff:
“The dynamic of the pitching staff is a lot different this year than it has been in years past, we have always had a bigger group of veterans and I think I am in a position that I wasn’t in last year. It’s definitely a different role, it’s exciting but also a little nerve racking moving into the season, but I think we are ready to do it as a group.”
On what she’s most excited about for this season:
“I think our team dynamic this year is excellent, I think we all work well together, we are all playing on each other’s strengths.  I think it’s going to be really exciting to see how we play games because it will be a lot scrappier than we were last year.”
On offseason work you did to prepare for the season:
“As a team we did a lot of team-building activities and I think that is really going to help us as we start moving into the season. As a pitching staff, I think we are all working on being collaborative in everything that we do, we are picking each other up, but we are also working on our strengths and weaknesses and making each other better.”
On the new faces on the pitching staff:
“I think Alexis Reid will be a key component as we move into the season, she is definitely somebody on the staff that will offset someone like myself and someone like Andie Formby, who is also new, and I think our movement as a staff is widespread. I think it should be pretty exciting, I think every pitcher we have on the staff is completely different. It should be pretty interesting how we tackle games.”
Daniella Chavez // Sophomore // Infielder
On the upcoming season:
“I think we are all pretty excited with season, obviously, around the corner. We’re looking forward to coming out being better than we were last year.”
On how Kansas will be better this year:
“I think the players we have this year will help us succeed and be better than we were last year. We brought in a lot of freshmen and I am looking forward to them helping us get victories.”
On freshman season:
“Honestly, my expectations were to come in and help the team however they needed me. I wasn’t really expecting to have a big outcome like I did, but I am very proud of myself and thank the whole team for supporting me through it all.”
On goals for 2016:
“My goals this year are to keep producing RBIs, like I have, and help this team get more victories. Hopefully, beat the records that I achieved last year and like I said just help the team when needed.”
Alexis Reid // Freshman // Pitcher
On what it means to play close to home and play for Kansas:
“I think it makes me feel very at home and comfortable because my family is so close that they can come and watch a lot of my games. Also my sister, because I’m very close to her and knowing she’s coming here next year brings us closer and allows me to help her know the school and know her way around.”
On how you feel now that the season is just a week away:
“It just makes me feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s here, this is real.’ I’ve been waiting four or five years to finally get to this place and I think it’s really exciting. It’s great to finally start off this season.”
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