No. 23 Kansas Heads Home for Jayhawk Invitational
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After five weeks and 23-straight games away from home, nationally-ranked Kansas softball heads home to host the Jayhawk Invitational, its first of two tournaments, at the brand-new Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. The Jayhawks will play three games this weekend and nine games in the next 10 days, all in Lawrence. KU will face Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Nebraska-Omaha in the Jayhawk Invitational, which also includes UMKC and Saint Louis. Kansas faces UNC in its first game of the tournament on Friday, March 13 at 3:30 p.m.
AROUND THE DIAMOND
Fans in attendance on Friday and Saturday can pick up 2015 schedule magnets at the promotions table. The final day of the Jayhawk Invitational is Sunday Fun Day and tickets are two for the price of one. Prior to the game on Sunday, the first set of 2015 Kansas softball trading cards will be handed out and following the game children will be allowed to run the bases and get autographs from the Jayhawks.
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
- Six Jayhawks are hitting above .300 in 2015 and contributing to KU’s .343 batting average, which is the second-best team average in the Big 12 Conference. Junior Briana Evans is hitting over .400 with a batting average of .430.
- Kansas’ 12-0 start to 2015 season set a new program record, surpassing the 10-0 record to begin the 2011 campaign. The Jayhawks are 21-2 on the season with No. 1 Florida and Chattanooga handing KU its pair of losses.
- The Jayhawks’ red-hot start to the 2015 campaign has put Kansas on the national radar. Heading into the sixth week of the season, KU jumped to No. 23 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll and moved up one spot to No. 24. It marks the first time since 2011 that the Jayhawks have been nationally-ranked and third week in a row to earn a national ranking.
- The Jayhawks have outscored their opponents 163-63 in 23 games, including six shutouts and a no-hitter. KU scores its most runs during the first and third frames after plating 36 and 28 runs, respectively.
- KU has a perfect 17-0 record when scoring first and is 4-12 when the opposition strikes first.
- After 23 games, the Jayhawks have outhit their opponents 211-105 and own an 18-0 record when outhitting the team in the other dugout.
- 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 23 games of the season, KU’s defense has committed only 14 errors in 147 innings and has a .976 fielding percentage.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Jayhawks begin a 12-game homestand this weekend with the Jayhawk Invitational March 13-15. Kansas opened the season with 23-straight games away from home and posted a 21-2 record. The Jayhawks look to build on that momentum in front of a home crowd at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. KU has outscored its opponents 163-63 this season and last weekend outscored the opposition 40-9 to compile a 4-1 record. Among its 23 wins this season, Kansas has recorded eight run-rule victories and two in extra innings.
Six Jayhawks are hitting above .300 with junior outfielder Briana Evans hitting over .400. Junior infielder Chaley Brickey and freshman Daniella Chavez lead the squad with five home runs each. Brickey also leads the squad with 21 RBIs and a .635 slugging percentage. Senior utility Maddie Stein has posted a team-best 10 doubles so far this season and is 11 RBIs away from breaking Kansas’ all-time RBI record.
Collectively, the Jayhawks are hitting .343 with 40 doubles, 20 home runs and 145 RBIs. Kansas has a .508 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .442. KU is 18-for-23 in stolen base attempts and has drawn a total of 106 walks, which is 68 away from setting a new team single season record. The Jayhawk pitching staff has posted a 2.76 ERA, good for third-lowest mark in the league, in 147 innings of work while striking out 133 and allowing 56 walks. In the circle, Kansas pitchers combined to hurl 22 and two-thirds innings of scoreless softball. KU tossed three-consecutive shutouts from Feb. 8-14. The Jayhawks nearly threw a fourth-straight shutout, but Weber State scored a run in sixth inning, ending the KU pitchers’ streak an out shy of 23 scoreless innings.
SCOUTING NORTHERN COLORADO
The Bears head to Lawrence with a 5-6-1 record for the 2015 season. Northern Colorado has been picked to finished third in the Big Sky conference after concluding the 2014 season with a 20-34 overall record. Along with a third-place finish, UNC returns three All-Big Sky first-team selections. Senior infielder Melissa Marcovecchio leads the team with 36 at-bats connecting for 14 hits. The senior is also tied for a team high 20 bases. After 11 starts, senior infielder Kaitlin Flynn has registered a team-high four blasts to assist in a .382 batting average. Flynn has also tallied a team-high 11 RBIs on the season. Sophomore pitcher Jayme Reddacliff leads the Bears pitching staff with a 3.10 ERA hurling 25 strikeouts in 52.0 innings pitched.
Collectively, the Bears are hitting .270 with 84 hits, 14 doubles and 11 home runs. In the circle, Northern Colorado has an ERA of 3.62 throwing 37 strikeouts over 79.1 innings pitched.
SCOUTING IDAHO STATE
The Bengal’s continue their 31 game road trip at the Jayhawk Invitational. Idaho State, picked to win the Big Sky Conference for the second year in a row, has tallied an 11-11 record on the season so far. ISU has three players hitting over .300 and as a team combines for a .281 batting average. Their pitching staff has registered a 4.20 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 125 innings of work.
Idaho State’s offense is headed by last week’s Big Sky co-player of the week, sophomore Kacie Burnett. The infielder leads the team with a .433 batting average and has registered a team high 23 runs on the season. Senior catcher Vicky Galasso contributes power to the Bengal’s offense with a team high seven home runs tallying 25 RBIs and 51 bases. Junior hurler Bailey Foster has collected a 2.84 ERA throwing 11 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched.
Omaha enters this weekend 9-9 in 2015. The Mavericks have won three of their last five games including a 13-1 victory over Valparaiso at the Colorado State Classic. Omaha has posted a .248 batting average, recording 35 extra base hits and 84 RBIs. Collectively, the Mavericks have registered a .418 slugging percentage while tagging a total of 185 bases. The Mavericks have connected on 19 home runs with senior outfielder Allie Mathewson contributing five of the blasts. Mathewson is tied for a team high 14 RBIs and has a slugging percentage of .644.
The Mavericks’ pitching staff has tossed a combined 4.46 ERA, hurling 67 strikeouts in 113.0 innings. Senior Kat Barrow boasts a 3-2 record in the circle with a 3.03 ERA, throwing 23 strikeouts in 38.2 innings of work.
In the spring of 2014, Kansas Athletics unveiled one of the top facilities in collegiate athletics when KU opened Rock Chalk Park. Featured in the multi-sport venue is the new home of Jayhawk softball, a 1,100-seat stadium, which will rival each of the Big 12 schools as one of the premier facilities in the conference. The state-of-the-art facility, located a short drive west from campus, features seatback, stadium chairs throughout the venue. The facility includes a press box, clubhouses behind both the first and third base dugouts, batting cages and an indoor training facility.
HOME RUN FUN
The Jayhawks have launched a total of 20 balls over the outfield wall in 2015, which is the fourth-most home runs among teams in the Big 12 Conference. Seven different Jayhawks have recorded at least one home run this season. Junior infielder Chaley Brickey and freshman infielder Daniella Chavez have each hit five long balls. Kansas has also posted seven grand slams so far this season from five different members of the roster. Chavez leads the squad with three grand slams this season and is four away from setting a new national single-season record.
KANSAS ON THE NATIONAL RADAR
After 4-1 record last weekend, Kansas softball jumped two spots to No. 23 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. KU also moved up to the 24th spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Jayhawks have earned a national ranking for the first time since 2011 and have held a spot in the national polls for the last three weeks.
Along with a hot-start to the season, Kansas softball has some streaks that continue to extend with each game in 2015. Junior outfielder Briana Evans has reached base in every game played this season, which is good for a 23-game streak of reaching base. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native also owns the longest hitting streak of the season at nine-straight games. Senior utility Maddie Stein owns the longest current hitting streak after recording a base knock in each of the past six games. The Jayhawks opened the year with a 12-game winning streak, which tied for the sixth -longest winning streak in school history. The longest winning streak in Kansas softball history is 20 games, set in 2012.
JAYHAWKS AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Kansas is among the top in the country in several statistical categories. The Jayhawks have the sixth-best winning percentage in the nation (.913) with a 21-2 record. KU is 10th in fielding percentage (.976) and 19th in on-base percentage (.442), while also posting the 21st-best batting average (.343). Individually, senior utility Maddie Stein is 10th in the nation in sacrifice flies (3). Senior hurler Alicia Pille is seventh in shutouts (4) and eighth in victories (12).
The Jayhawks have lined up another loaded schedule for 2015 featuring eight opponents who competed in the 2014 postseason. In addition to squaring off with eight teams who advanced to the postseason, the Jayhawks will also face three programs that competed in the Women’s College World Series last season. Two of the three WCWS participants are members of the Big 12, while the third is the defending national champion, Florida. For the second year in a row, KU has faced the defending national champion after squaring off with Florida. The Gators handed KU its first loss of the season, 7-1. Kansas has compiled a 4-2 record against programs that appeared in the postseason last year.
Kansas continues its 12-game homestand on Monday, March 16 against Drake at 1 p.m. The Jayhawks square off with Indiana State for another midweek match-up on Tuesday, March 17 at 3 p.m., before hosting the Rock Chalk Challenge, March 20-22.
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