2016 Softball Season Outlook: Pitchers
Returners: Senior Monique Wesley and junior Sophia Templin
Newcomers: Sophomore Andie Formby and freshmen Alexis Reid and Ania Williams
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just days away from the start of the 2016 season, Kansas softball will preview each position in a four-part series. The third installment of the 2016 season outlook features Kansas’ pitchers.
In her seventh season at the helm of the Kansas softball program, head coach Megan Smith returns several veterans to the circle while welcoming some young talent who she hopes will make an impact early on for the Jayhawks. The veterans of KU’s pitching staff include senior Monique Wesley and junior Sophia Templin.
“We have a lot of new faces, but we return two in Monique Wesley and Sophia Templin, Mo has the potential to throw big games for us. Last year, she did a few of those (big games) and did well,” Smith said. “I think we are going to look to her a little more this year. Sophia was great last year coming in and throwing batters off balance. She continued to show that ability throughout the fall and preseason.”
The lone senior on the Jayhawk pitching staff, Wesley started nine games and made 13 appearances in the circle, totaling 31.2 innings pitched last season. She finished with a 6.63 ERA and a 3-1 record, while striking out 26 batters, including a season-high seven against Bradley (2/13).
Templin, an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, made two starts and 19 appearances in the circle during her sophomore campaign in 2015. She recorded a team-best 2.95 ERA with a 5-2 mark. The De Soto, Kansas native tossed 42.2 innings while striking out 33 batters.
“Certainly, both of those pitchers have some experience, they didn’t throw a ton of innings last year, but threw in big games,” said Smith. “Sophia closed in a lot of big games and we will look for her to do that a lot again.”
Additions to the pitching staff for 2016 include sophomore Andie Formby and freshmen Alexis Reid and Ania Williams.
“We have a transfer from Virginia who threw the bulk of the innings there last year,” Smith said. “Obviously, the ACC is a tough conference and she threw all of the big games for her team. Andie Formby is someone we will look to because she has the experience and great poise. Andie is able to hit spots really well and move the ball. She really complements our pitchers as well.”
Formby joins the Jayhawks after playing a season at Virginia where she made 33 appearances and 24 starts in the circle. The Orange, California native registered an 8-17 record and posted a 5.56 ERA in 148 and two-thirds innings of work. Formby tossed 12 complete games and struck out 102 batters, including a career-best eight batters in a single game twice.
A local product, Reid lettered in softball at Blue Springs High School, earning team MVP honors in 2014. During the 2014 season, she ranked No. 44 in the Student Sports Hot 100 among the 2015 class. Reid was a two-time all-state selection and earned three all-region honors and all-district accolades. She helped the Wildcats to three-straight conference championships and a district championship in 2014 while leading Blue Springs to a 27-2 record as a junior.
“Alexis (Reid) has the potential to get the ball a lot,” said Smith. “She has really good pitches, she’s competitive and she wants to beat batters, which is really exciting to see from a pitcher. She is motivated by beating batters and that’s a fun thing to watch. She’s going to get the ball quite a bit, so it’s going to be fun to see how she develops as a freshman. It’s always hard as a freshman to step in and get the ball so much. Alicia Pille did that her freshman year and did extremely well, but certainly ups and downs, so we know with Alexis we have to keep giving her opportunities and know with that she is going to grow and mature.”
Williams prepped at Spring High School in Texas, where she was named first-team all-district twice and earned one all-district honorable mention accolade. She recorded a 0.91 ERA with a 3-0 record, including two complete games and a save as a sophomore… Struck out 26 in 23 innings pitched and allowed only nine hits during her sophomore campaign.
“Ania is a great all-around athlete,” Smith said. “When we recruited Ania, we wanted her to do everything and that’s a hard thing to ask a freshman to do. The fall was tough for her to balance all of the different things – the defense, the hitting and the pitching – but she’s done much better in the last few weeks of figuring that out. From the pitching standpoint, she worked really hard and is developing. She will definitely get some innings for us because she throws hard and is aggressive in the circle. She will be able to contribute in a lot of different ways.”
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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