2016 Softball Season Outlook: Outfield
Returners: Seniors Briana Evans and Shannon McGinley, junior Lily Behrmann and sophomore Erin McGinley
Newcomers: Freshmen Heaven Benavidez, Emily Bermel and Jennifer Marwitz
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just days away from the start of the 2016 season, Kansas softball will preview each position in a four-part series. The second installment of the 2016 season outlook includes the Jayhawk outfield.
The position with the most experience on head coach Megan Smith’s roster belongs to the outfield, where she returns four student-athletes that have started a combined 165 games in the last year.
“I think our outfield is very strong this year and they have some great experience,” said Smith. “They’ve all played in big games and done extremely well. I think they’ve improved every single year they have been here. We have Briana Evans, Shannon McGinley, Lily Behrmann and Erin McGinley, who will be the main players in the outfield and have competed at a really high level. Erin finished last season very strong for us and played in some big games and the other three have been really solid for us.”
Collectively, the outfield quadruplet of seniors Briana Evans and Shannon McGinley, along with junior Lily Behrmann and sophomore Erin McGinley, has posted a .980 fielding percentage with only four errors combined.
“Our outfield plays well together, it’s important to know who is getting to what and be able to communicate,” Smith said. “I think our outfield has a very good sense of that and they played every game last year together out there. And, that helps being comfortable and trusting each other.”
A 2015 Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region Third Team selection, Evans batted .314 with 55 hits and 10 RBIs in 55 starts. She expertly navigated the bases last season, leading the team in stolen bases (11), and finishing second on the team in runs scored (41). The Tulsa, Oklahoma native drew 20 walks, contributing to an on-base percentage of .385, and reached base in 25-consecutive games, the longest streak of any Jayhawk in 2015.
Shannon McGinley, a 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, hit .283 on the season with 45 hits, including 11 for extra bases. She tallied 10 doubles and a triple, while registering 23 runs scored, 20 RBIs and 18 walks.
An Overland Park, Kansas native, Behrmann started 40 games while batting .369 on the season with 41 hits, 11 for extra bases. She totaled five doubles, a triple, five home runs and 25 RBIs. In 2015, Behrmann led the team in on-base percentage (.568) and base on balls (38), second-most in KU single season history.
A 2015 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team honoree, Erin McGinley appeared in 23 games and started 15 contests. She hit .179 on the season with seven hits, two runs scored and six RBIs.
Freshmen Heaven Benavidez, Emily Bermel and Jennifer Marwitz will provide depth to Kansas’ outfield.
Benavidez lettered in softball at Glenda Dawson High School and helped the Lady Eagles to a 24-12 mark, an area championship and a bi-district championship in 2013. She earned district Utility Player of the Year honors and named team MVP. Benavidez hit .426 with 52 hits including three doubles, a triple and 21 RBIs as a junior.
Bermel prepped at Lawrence Free State High School and was named first-team all-state, first-team all-metro and All-Sunflower League First Team at the conclusion of her junior season. She helped the Firebirds to a regional championship in 2013.
Prior to Kansas, Marwitz lettered at Mount Saint Mary High School and was named the Sooner Conference Offensive Player of the Year in both 2013 and 2014. She helped the Rockets to three-straight district titles and a regional title in 2014. As a senior, Marwitz played in 30 games batting .481 with 39 hits, including 10 doubles, three triples and five home runs.
KU welcomes eight newcomers to the squad for 2016 while returning 16 letterwinners and seven starters who helped the Jayhawks to their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance last season. Among those returning to the diamond in Crimson and Blue are All-Big 12 First Team selection Chaley Brickey and Big 12 co-Freshman of the Year Daniella Chavez.
Kansas softball opens its 2016 campaign in Florida at the Jacksonville Invitational Feb. 12-14, hosted by Jacksonville University. The Jayhawks will play a total of five games during the first weekend of the year against North Carolina State, Jacksonville, Coastal Carolina and North Carolina-Greensboro.
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