Kansas Continues Non-Conference Slate Out West
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball heads west for the second weekend of the 2016 season. The Jayhawks will play in a five-game tournament Feb. 19-21 hosted by Fresno State. KU kicks off week two action on Friday against UC Riverside at 1 p.m. (CT) at Margie Wright Diamond.
FOLLOWING THE JAYHAWKS
Listen to every pitch 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. Every game will be available on the Mountain West Network for live viewing. Fans can also get in-game updates via twitter by following @KUsoftball.
LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- Kansas continues its 19-game road swing to start the 2016 season in Fresno, California. The last time the Jayhawks played in the Golden State was in 2013 at the Capital Classic hosted by Sacramento State. KU’s last trip to the Central Valley was in 1998 when the Jayhawks won their first game against the Bulldogs, 4-1.
- 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 seasons were the most victories claimed by KU in the Smith era, and the most wins by 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.
- A year after walking her way into the history books, senior infielder Chaley Brickey is five walks away from the Jayhawks’ all-time walk record, which is 108 base on balls set by Tracey Bunge (1983-86).
- Sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez picked up right where she left off, starting the 2016 campaign hitting .588 with a team-best five runs scored, 10 hits, 10 RBIs and three home runs. The Crowley, Texas native posted a monstrous 1.118 slugging percentage in the first five games of the season.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas opened the 2016 season 2-3 at the River City Leadoff hosted by Jacksonville. The Jayhawks dropped their season opener to then-No. 23 North Carolina State, 3-1. KU won a pair of contests against Jacksonville and Coastal Carolina before losing twice to UNC Greensboro. In all three losses of opening weekend, Kansas had the tying run at the plate.
Sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez started the season in similar fashion as her freshman campaign, recording three home runs and 10 RBIs, while batting .588. Chavez and senior Briana Evans (.385) are the only Jayhawks hitting above .300. Collectively, KU’s offense is batting .287, while five different Jayhawks have cleared the fence for home runs in 2016.
In the circle, sophomore Andie Formby is 2-0 after three starts, including a complete-game shutout against Jacksonville. Formby tossed a team-low 2.05 ERA allowing four runs in 13 and two-thirds innings pitched, while striking out a team-best 11 batters. KU’s pitching staff has struck out a total of 27 batters and allowed 22 earned runs in 31 innings for a 4.97 ERA.
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 face three non-conference opponents that appeared in the postseason.
Scouting the Highlanders
UC Riverside is coming off of a 39-win season, the most wins in the program’s Division I history, and has a 3-4 mark early on in the 2016 season. The Highlanders were selected by the Big West Conference coaches to finish the league slate in fifth place.
The Highlanders are batting .260 collectively with eight doubles, a triple and three home runs after seven games, with three individuals hitting above .300. Madeline Richard leads the team offensively, batting .455 with 10 hits and a .500 slugging percentage. She also leads the team with six stolen bases in as many attempts. Natalie Sanchez has posted four RBIs and a home run, while recording a .316 batting average. UC Riverside’s pitching staff has a 7.16 ERA with 45 strikeouts. Highlander ace Tayler Misfeldt owns a 2-3 mark in the circle with a 5.27 ERA and 29 K’s.
The Series Rundown
Kansas and UC Riverside meet for just the second time in program history on the diamond. The Jayhawks defeated the Highlanders, 5-4, in extra innings in the first meeting in 2004 to take a 1-0 lead in the overall series. KU looks to extend its lead in the all-time series and on a neutral diamond with a victory.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Fresno State enters its fourth season under head coach Trisha Ford, who led the Bulldogs to a 40-win season in 2015 and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011. The Mountain West Conference (MWC) preseason favorite returns 16 letterwinners, including seven starters, from the roster that brought home Fresno State softball’s first league title. Fresno State entered the USA Today/NFCA poll, ranking No. 23 heading into the second weekend of the year, after jumping out to a 5-0 start to the season.
Senior Jill Compton is among the starters returning to the field for the Bulldogs in 2016. The 2015 MWC Pitcher of the Year is 3-0 in the circle after three starts. She has struck out 17 batters and allowed just one earned run in 21 innings of work. The Bulldogs’ pitching staff has a 1.40 ERA after allowing only seven earned runs in 35 innings and striking out 24 batters.
Junior Lindsey Willmon leads the Bulldog offense, batting .467 with a pair of doubles and home runs, and five RBIs. For her efforts at the plate, Willmon was named MWC Player of the Week. Six Bulldogs are hitting above .300 with three batting over .400. Fresno State has posted a .309 batting average with six doubles, twp triples and five home runs five games into the season.
The Series Rundown
The Jayhawks trail Fresno State in the all-time series, 6-2. Kansas lost the first four meetings, including a 4-1 decision in favor of the Bulldogs at the 1992 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This weekend’s match-ups mark just the second time that KU will face Fresno State in the Central Valley, a 4-1 Jayhawk victory. Kansas is 1-0 at Margie Wright Field, 1-6 on neutral diamonds.
Scouting the Hornets
Sacramento State was selected in a tie for second place in the Big Sky preseason poll, and returns 10 players from 2015, including five starters. Last season, the Hornets finished with a 28-26 overall record and a 15-6 mark in league play. After the first weekend of the season, Sacramento State has a 2-2 mark.
Five Hornets are batting above .300, while the team is hitting .255 after four games. Sydney Rasmussen is leading the charge, batting .375 with a pair of doubles and a team-best three RBIs. Sacramento State recorded 28 hits opening weekend, including four doubles. In the circle, the Hornets have allowed just seven earned runs in 28 innings for a 1.75 team ERA. Sacramento State posted 13 K’s, led by Celina Matthias’ five. Savanna Corr is 1-0 in one start with a team-low 1.40 ERA.
The Series Rundown
Sacramento State has a 4-1 lead in the series against Kansas. The Jayhawks won the first contest on the diamond, 3-1. The Hornets won the next four games outscoring KU, 13-4. KU is 1-1 against Sacramento State on neutral fields and 0-3 when playing the Hornets in Sacramento.
And the Winner is…
After beginning 2016 with multiple impressive performances at the plate, Kansas infielder Daniella Chavez opened her sophomore campaign with Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honors, as announced by the league on Tuesday. Chavez picked up right where she left off after being named the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year a season ago, blasting three home runs and driving in 10 runs as Kansas softball opened the season by going 2-3 at the River City Leadoff in Jacksonville, Florida. Chavez batted .588 and led Kansas in RBIs (10), hits (10) and runs scored (5), while posting a monstrous 1.118 slugging percentage. A year ago, Chavez broke the school record with 67 RBI and hit a freshman-best 16 long balls.
Home Run Fun
The Jayhawks blasted nine home runs in the first five games of the 2016 campaign. Three of those nine long balls came at the end of sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez’s bat, who has tallied a homer in each of the last three contests. A year ago, Chavez led the squad with 16 home runs as a rookie. Junior utility Lily Behrman and sophomore utility Jessie Roane have two home runs apiece, while senior outfielder Shannon McGinley recorded her first career long ball. Kansas launched a total of 52 balls over the outfield wall in 2015, which was the third-most home runs among teams in the Big 12 Conference. Seven Jayhawks recorded at least one home run last year. KU also posted 10 grand slams in 2015 by six different members of the roster.
Kansas returns to the Sunshine State Feb. 26-28 for a five-game tournament hosted by South Florida. The Jayhawks open the non-conference tournament with Wisconsin and South Florida on Friday, followed by a game against UNLV on Saturday. The final two opponents will be determined on the outcomes of the first three contests of the weekend. All five games will be available on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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