Jayhawks Take hot start to The Land of Enchantment
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a perfect 5-0 mark to begin the 2015 campaign, Kansas is off to its best start since the 2011 season. The Jayhawks take their unblemished record to the Troy Cox Classic hosted by New Mexico State Feb. 13-15. At its second non-conference tournament of the year, KU faces NM State, Bradley and Weber State, playing five games in three days at NM State Softball Complex.
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
- Seven Jayhawks are hitting above .300 in 2015 and contributing to KU’s .328 batting average. Senior infielder Chanin Naudin leads the charge with a .462 batting average and four doubles, while sophomore utility Lily Behrmann is close behind hitting .417.
- Kansas has a perfect 5-0 mark in 2015, which is its best start since the Jayhawks opened 2011 with a 10-0 mark.
- After finishing 2014 with the second-best fielding mark in the nation and only replacing one member of the Jayhawk infield, Kansas continues its trend of being defensively sound. After the first five games of the season, KU’s defense has committed only two errors in 31 innings for a .985 fielding percentage.
- The Jayhawks have outscored their opponents 31-11 in five games, including two shutouts and a no-hitter in their season debut tournament. KU scores its most runs during the third frame and has outscored its foes 9-3 in the third inning.
- KU has a perfect 4-0 record when scoring first and is also 1-0 when the opposition strikes first.
- After five games, the Jayhawks have outhit their opponents 42-21 and own a 4-0 record when outhitting the team in the other dugout.
- 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 are off to a hot start with a 5-0 record after opening the 2015 campaign at the FAU Kickoff Classic, where KU knocked off programs from the Big Ten, ACC and SEC. The Jayhawks outhit their opposition 31-11, including two shutouts, one of which was a no-hit performance by senior Alicia Pille and the defense against Penn State (2/8). Kansas not only outscored its opponents, but also outhit its foes, 42-21. The Jayhawks have scored 61 percent of their runs within the first three frames and have scored the most during the third inning (9). Kansas has a perfect 4-0 record so far this season when outhitting and outscoring its opponents.
In the circle, Pille tossed her second career no-hitter during the first weekend of the 2015 slate. The senior hurled 19 innings over three appearances while striking out 13 batters. Pille allowed eight earned runs and limited the opposition to a .169 batting average. Senior Beth Wilson was perfect in her first outing of the season. She threw four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief and struck out two. Junior Monique Wesley made her first appearance in the Crimson and Blue in KU’s first game of the season. She tossed a one-hit shutout and handed Kansas its first victory of 2015.
Seven Jayhawks are hitting above .300 with senior Chanin Naudin (.462) and sophomore Lily Behrmann (.417) batting over .400. Naudin leads the squad with four doubles and is tied for the most hits with six in five games. Sophomore infielder Taylor McElhaney posted a .385 batting average and team-best five RBIs during the first weekend of play.
Collectively, the Jayhawks are hitting .328 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 27 RBIs. Kansas has a .461 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .439. KU is 5-for-7 in stolen base attempts and has drawn a total of 25 walks, averaging five per game. The Jayhawk pitching staff posted a 3.19 ERA in 31 innings of work while striking out 16 and allowing 11 earned runs.
SCOUTING THE BRAVES
Bradley opened the season with a 7-1 victory over Utah Valley at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Braves lost their next four contests and have a 1-4 mark after the first weekend of play. Last season, Bradley finished with an overall record of 27-32 and a league mark of 15-12. The Braves lost two of their three hitters that batted over .300 last season, but retained senior Shannon King, who hit .302 in 2014. Despite being toward the bottom of the batting average totals in 2014, junior Kendall Duffy is off to a hot start leading the Braves with a .500 clip, a double, a triple, and three RBIs in 2015. Bradley also returned the majority of its pitching staff from the 2014 season and after one week of play has posted a 9.46 ERA with 21 walks and eight strikeouts.
Collectively, the Braves hit .285 in 2014, including 441 hits, 41 home runs and 237 RBIs. Currently, Bradley has posted a .262 batting average with 27 hits and nine RBIs. The Braves’ pitching staff is looking for improvement this weekend after allowing 32 earned runs for a 9.46 ERA, which 5.79 more earned runs in their first tournament appearance from last season’s ending total of 3.67.
KANSAS VS. BRADLEY: THE SERIES
The Jayhawks lead the overall series against the Braves, 5-3. The series began in 2002 with an 8-0 victory in Lawrence. Kansas won five of the first six meetings against Bradley, but the Braves have come out on top in the last two contests (in 2009 and 2011). At home, KU is 4-1 versus the Braves and on a neutral diamond the Jayhawks are 1-2.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
New Mexico State began its 2015 slate with a 3-2 mark at home, hosting the Hotel Encanto Invitational. During the 2015 season debut, NM State defeated two of its first three opponents, including a 16-11 victory over No. 18 Nebraska. The Aggies were selected as the favorite to win the 2015 Western Athletic Conference softball title. NM State led all teams by placing four players on the preseason all-conference team, led by senior outfielder Staci Rodriguez, who was honored as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. Rodriguez leads the team with eight RBIs, while batting .438 with a double and a pair of home runs.
The Aggies are batting .387 with all 12 batters hitting over .300. Haley Nakamura leads the way hitting .500 with six hits and a slugging percentage of .583. This year, NM State returns seven batter from last years line up that batted .300 or better. The Aggies’ pitching staff has recorded a 4.74 ERA with 29 strikeouts and allowed 29 walks. Karysta Donisthrope went 3-0 in the circle with a 1.29 ERA in four appearances last weekend and earned WAC Pitcher of the Week honors for her efforts.
KANSAS VS. NEW MEXICO STATE: THE SERIES
The Jayhawks have a 3-2 edge over the Aggies in the all-time series, which began with a two-game series in Las Cruces during the 1996 season. Kansas lost the first two meetings with New Mexico State, but currently has a three-game winning streak over NM State. The last time the two programs squared off on the diamond was 2005 and KU defeated New Mexico State, 8-4.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Weber State opens its 2015 campaign at the Troy Cox Classic after having a bye the first weekend of the season. During the 2014 season, the Wildcats had an overall record of 22-25 and a 4-10 mark in Big Sky Conference play, which was good for a fifth-place finish. Weber State was selected to finish fifth this year by the conference head coaches with 29 points. Mary Kay Amicone, who is entering her second season at the helm of the Wildcats’ program, returns eight starters from last season, including first-team all-conference pitcher MaCauley Flint and second-team all-conference third baseman Alyson Kulp. Kulp hit .306 with 48 hits, 29 runs and 24 RBIs, which was good for second best on the team behind senior Brooke Silva. Last year, Flint was 10-8 in the circle with a 2.43 ERA, 72 walks, and 146 strikeouts.
Offensively, Weber State batted .276 with 60 doubles, 12 triples, 36 home runs and 193 RBIs. Three Wildcats recorded above a .300 batting average. The Wildcats’ pitching staff posted a 3.92 ERA with 164 walks and 212 strikeouts.
KANSAS VS. WEBER STATE: THE SERIES
Kansas’ match up with the Wildcats is the first meeting in program history.
KANSAS – NEW MEXICO CONNECTION
Kansas softball has several ties to the Land of Enchantment on its 2015 roster. Freshman catcher Jessie Roane is from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where she excelled at Rio Rancho High School and even made varsity as an eighth grader. Also hailing from New Mexico are associate head coach John Rittman and assistant coach Abbie Sims. Rittman, a native of Las Cruces, played baseball for New Mexico State, while Sims’ home town is Artesia, New Mexico. The Aggies don’t field any players from the Sunflower State.
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. After its opening weekend on the road, the Jayhawks have an unblemished record of 5-0. Kansas continues its 25-game streak away from Lawrence in New Mexico this weekend
Kansas heads back to the Sunshine State for the Aquafina Invitational hosted by defending national champion, Florida. The Jayhawks will face the nationally-ranked Gators, Mercer, Liberty and Illinois State during the three-day tournament Feb. 20-22.
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