KU Softball Opens 2016 Slate in Florida
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball opens the 2016 campaign at the River City Leadoff, hosted by Jacksonville University, Feb. 12-14 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jayhawks start the season against North Carolina State on Friday morning and face off with Jacksonville, Coastal Carolina and UNC-Greensboro in the five-game tournament.
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, KLWN and KWOD. All of KU’s contests will be carried live, for free, at KUAthletics.com/radio or by clicking the link on the online schedule. Fans can also get in-game updates via twitter by following @KUsoftball.
LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- After making it to their first NCAA Tournament since 2006 in 2014, the Jayhawks returned to the postseason last year, marking the first back-to-back appearances for KU since 2005-06.
- The Jayhawks have recorded 30 wins in each of the last five season under head coach Megan Smith.
- Kansas’ 40 wins last season were the most victories claimed by KU in the Smith era, and the most wins from a Jayhawk team since 1997.
- In the last three seasons, Kansas has recorded three top-10 wins including a victory over then-No. 1 Oklahoma, 2-0, in 2013. During the 2015 season, KU continued its tradition of upsetting OU with a 4-2 win over the fifth-ranked Sooners on April 24.
- The Jayhawks registered a combined 222 walks during 2015, setting a new team single-season record. The previous mark was 173 walks collected by the 2011 squad. Last season marked the seventh time in Kansas history that the Jayhawks have tallied more than 150 base on balls in a season.
- Sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez rewrote the Kansas record book, tallying the most RBIs in a single-season. She registered 65 RBIs last season, surpassing Serena Settlemier, who recorded 61 RBIs in 2006.
- A year after walking her way into the history books, senior infielder Chaley Brickey is eight walks away from the Jayhawks’ all-time walk record, which is 108 base on balls set by Tracey Bunge (1983-86).
About the Jayhawks
On Friday morning, Kansas softball begins its 47th season, and seventh under head coach Megan Smith who has guided KU to back-to-back NCAA postseason appearances in 2014 and 2015. Smith’s Jayhawks have recorded 30-win campaigns in each of the last five years and reached the 40-win plateau for the first time since 1997. Kansas finished the 2015 slate with a 40-15 mark and its season came to a close in the Regional Championship against Missouri.
The Jayhawks ended the 2015 season and begins the new year receiving votes in both softball polls, along with being selected to conclude Big 12 Conference action in fourth place by the league coaches. The fourth-place pick ties Kansas’ highest preseason prediction, which was also accomplished prior to the 2014 and 2002 seasons. Additionally, KU’s 20 points is the best preseason point total since garnering 25 points prior to the 2009 season.
Last year, Kansas built an impressive resume for the NCAA selection committee and saw its best RPI mark in recent years (23) after playing tough competition throughout the non-conference slate. The 2016 campaign will be no different, as the Jayhawks kick off the season with North Carolina State, who advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2015. NC State is the first of three non-conference opponents that appeared in the postseason.
Entering her seventh season at the helm of Kansas softball, head coach Megan Smith garners a roster with 15 returning letterwinners, including eight starters. Along with 15 veterans, Smith welcomes eight newcomers featuring six freshmen and two transfers.
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, who combined for 29 of KU’s 54 long balls. Kansas returns 77 percent of its run production from last season, including the five offensive threats that hit above .300 on the year.
Jayhawks Tabbed Fourth in Preseason Big 12 POll
Kansas softball was selected to finish fourth in 2016 by the Big 12 Conference coaches prior to the start of the season. The fourth-place pick ties Kansas’ highest preseason conference ranking since 2014, when KU was also voted to conclude conference play fourth. Prior to 2014, the best preseason mark by the Jayhawks was in the 2002 season when Kansas was also slated fourth. Additionally, KU’s 20 points is the best preseason point total since garnering 25 points prior to the 2009 season.
Kansas in the Spotlight
The Jayhawks will have six nationally-televised games during the 2016 season. Kansas softball will be showcased on FSN when the Jayhawks visit Big 12 favorite Oklahoma on Sunday, April 3 at noon. The other five national broadcasts will air on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3. Through Kansas Athletics’ partnership with IMG and Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, five selected games will air in the state of Kansas, while those outside of the Sunflower State can view the contests on ESPN3.
Along with the most televised games in a season for Kansas softball, every game will be broadcast live over the airwaves on the Jayhawk Radio Network. The Jayhawk Radio Network enters its second year of a partnership with KJHK, the University of Kansas’ student radio station, to broadcast select home games, while KLWN and KWOD will air select road games. Every game will be available online at KUAthletics.com/radio.
Kansas vs. Ranked Opponents
The Jayhawks faced four nationally-ranked foes in 2015 and faired 1-8 against opponents ranked in the Top-25 polls. With last year’s 4-2 upset of No. 5 Oklahoma, KU extended its streak to three-consecutive seasons taking down a Top-10 program. The Jayhawks aren’t afraid of a challenge and will face four opponents that have earned a preseason ranking and another that is receiving votes.
Kansas softball continues its road swing in California at the Fresno State Kickoff Classic Feb. 19-21, hosted by Fresno State. The Jayhawks will play a total of five games during the second weekend of the year against the Bulldogs, Sacramento State and UC Riverside.
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