Kansas Heads South for Under Armour Showcase
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas softball continues its season-opening road-game streak at the Under Armour Showcase March 7-9 in Tampa, Fla. Kansas will open the tournament against Northwestern at 10:45 a.m. (CT) Friday, and is scheduled to play five total games against a field that includes USF, St. John’s, Utah and LIU Brooklyn. FOLLOWING THE JAYHAWKS Live streaming will be available for several games at the Under Armour Showcase via goUSFBulls.com. Live stats are offered for all five of the Jayhawks’ game this weekend and are available via KUAthletics.com. Kansas softball’s twitter account (@KUSoftball) will also have in-game updates during each game of the season. LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- Kansas’ appearance at the Under Armour Showcase is the second trip to the Sunshine state for the Jayhawks. It is the fifth-straight week on the road for KU.
- Kansas is 2-1 in extra inning games this season and has a 5-1 mark in extended contests under head coach Megan Smith. KU’s all-time record in extra-inning games is 79-75-1.
- Five Jayhawk starters are hitting above .300 on the season. Freshman Harli Ridling leads the squad with a .353 batting average and a team-high six extra base hits. She hit her first career grand slam against Jackson State (2/22) and has two home runs on the year. Ridling recorded her first career grand slam against Jackson State (2/22) and the first since Maggie Hull hit one against North Carolina A&T in 2013. Ridling leads the team with two home runs and six extra base hits. She also has the best slugging percentage at .549.
- Sophomore Kelsey Kessler leads the Kansas pitching staff with 96 strikeouts on the season. Kessler recorded a career-high 15 Ks earlier this season against Chattanooga (2/9) and has struck out 10 or more batters in three games.
- Ridling and senior Alex Jones are tied for the longest hit streak of 2014 after recording at least one hit in seven games. Junior Maddie Stein has the longest active hit streak at six games.
- Junior Alicia Pille tossed her first career no-hitter against Jackson State (2/22) becoming the 24th Jayhawk to record a no-no. Pille’s no-hitter is the first since 2013 when Kelsey Kessler hurled one against Texas Tech. She faced one over the minimum and struck out 10.
- The Jayhawks concluded the 2013 season with the eighth-best fielding percentage (.976) in the country and currently have the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.978) after committing only 10 errors in 116.1 innings.
SERIES HISTORY Northwestern: Friday morning’s match up between the Wildcats and Jayhawks is the 13th meeting of the two softball programs, which began in 1987. Northwestern leads the overall series 9-3 and every contest has taken place on a neutral diamond during non-conference play. Kansas won the last game against the Wildcats, 8-7, on Feb. 7, 2009 in Tempe, Ariz. KU’s win snapped a five-game losing streak to Northwestern. South Florida: The Bulls have a one-game advantage in the all-time series leading 3-2. The series started in 1997 with Kansas recording a pair of wins over South Florida in Columbia, S.C. Since the pair of series-opening wins, South Florida has won three-straight games over KU. St. John’s: Kansas will face the Red Storm for the first time in program history at the Under Armour Showcase. Utah: Kansas and Utah began meeting on the diamond in 1982 with the Jayhawks earning the first victory in the series, 1-0. KU has a 7-4 lead in the overall series and has won four-consecutive games over the Utes. Every game against Utah has taken place on a neutral field. LIU Brooklyn: The Jayhawks’ game against LIU Brooklyn is the first in program history. The two teams were scheduled to meet earlier this season, but the game at the Central Florida Tournament was canceled due to weather. SCOUTING THE FIELD Northwestern: The Wildcats are off to an 11-4 start to the 2014 campaign. Northwestern returns five 2013 All-Big Ten selections including Amy Letourneau, Mari Majam, Marisa Bast, Anna Edwards and Brianna LeBeau. Bast leads the team with 19 RBIs and is hitting .419 on the year. She is one of seven Wildcat starters to average .300 or better. At the plate, NU is hitting .343 with 139 hits, including 33 extra base hits, and 98 RBIs. Letourneau is 2-1 in the circle with a 1.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts, while Kristen Wood is 6-2 in 11 appearances with a 4.06 ERA and 55 strikeouts. Northwestern’s pitching staff has struck out 95 batters and has posted an ERA of 3.31 so far this season. South Florida: The Bulls have a 14-5 mark this season and are 8-4 at home. USF is batting .315 with 87 RBIs and have outscored opponents 101-44. After four weekends of play, South Florida has tallied 148 hits, including 16 doubles, five triples and 16 home runs. Ashli Goff has started all 19 games and has a .386 batting average, which is the highest amongst the starters. Eight Bulls starters are hitting .300 or better. In the circle, USF has a 1.92 ERA with 164 strikeouts and seven complete games. Sara Nevins is 8-2 after 12 appearances and nine starts. She has hurled two complete game shutouts and struck out 77 batters in 60.2 innings of work. Opponents are hitting .155 when Nevins is on the mound. St. John’s: The Red Storm are 5-9 in 2014. St. John’s was selected to finish fifth in the 2014 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll and returns 14 letterwinners, including eight starters, from last season’s line up. The Red Storm are batting .251 with 87 hits and 36 RBIs. St. John’s has been outscored 79-37 by opponents in 14 games. Erin Burner is batting .419 after 14 starts with four doubles, four home runs and a team-high 11 RBIs. On the mound, the Red Storm has a 5.39 team ERA with 73 strikeouts and a .286 opposing batting average. Tori Free has tossed a complete game and a team-best 40 strikeouts in 35.1 innings of work. She has a 4.36 ERA, which is the lowest ERA on staff. Utah: The Pac 12’s Utah is 7-5 on the season and 6-4 when playing on a neutral diamond. The Utes return six starters to the lineup this season, which includes four who garnered all-conference accolades from the league at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Utah is batting .354 with 122 hits and 86 runs scored. The Utes have hit 21 doubles, five triples and 14 home runs while collecting 76 RBIs. Kate Dickman is hitting a team-high .568 this year with five doubles, two triples, two home runs and 11 RBIs. In the circle, Utah has struck out 38 batters, while posting a 3.77 ERA in 78 innings of work. Kayce Nieto is 4-4 on the mound with a 3.35 ERA and 17 strikeouts after nine appearances and 39.2 innings pitched. LIU Brooklyn: The Blackbirds are 6-13 on the season and 6-11 on neutral fields in 2014. LIU Brooklyn has collected 120 hits, including 22 for extra bases, and is hitting .234 on the season. The Blackbirds have been outscored 85-50 in 19 games. Kayla Gloady leads the team with a .324 batting average and nine RBIs. In the circle, LIU Brooklyn’s staff has tossed a complete game and struck out 87 batters in 131.2 innings of work. Shelley Procter has the lowest ERA (3.53) and is 5-8 on the mound with 44 Ks and an opposing batting average of .270.
NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT Through 116.1 innings of play in the 2014 season, the Jayhawk defense has committed only 10 errors for the Big 12’s best fielding percentage (.978). A year ago, Kansas broke the program fielding percentage record with a .976 mark, which finished eighth in the NCAA.
RACKING UP THE RBIS Junior utility Maddie Stein collected 49 RBIs in 2013, which is the second-most in Kansas single-season history. She recorded a season-high four RBIs in KU’s 10-1 win over Fordham (2/14) and currently has 15 RBIs on the season, which leads the team. With 84 RBIs in her career, Stein needs just 11 more RBIs to break into the top 10 all-time in Kansas history. Maggie Hull set a new all-time RBI record at the conclusion of last season after tallying 140 RBIs in her four-year career as a Jayhawk.
HITTING THE LONG BALL At the College of Charleston Classic, two Jayhawks recorded their first career home runs. Senior Taylor Hatfield hit the first long ball of the 2014 season with a solo shot against Ole Miss (2/14). Freshman Harli Ridling crushed her first career grand slam against Jackson State (2/22) and is tied with sophomore Chaley Brickey for the most home runs this season with two each.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.