No. 22 Jayhawks’ Homestand Continues With Rock Chalk Challenge
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas heads into its second-straight weekend at home with a perfect 4-0 record at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. The nationally-ranked Jayhawks continue their 12-game homestand by hosting the Rock Chalk Challenge March 20-22, which features Eastern Michigan, UMKC and Georgia State. KU begins tournament action on Friday against EMU at 12:30 p.m.
AROUND THE DIAMOND
The Jayhawks open the weekend with Camper Reunion on Friday at Arrocha Ballpark with campers receiving free admission and adults just $5. The first day of the Rock Chalk Challenge is also Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day with free admission for Kansas faculty and staff. On Saturday, tickets are $1 for March Mania. There will also be prizes raffled off after each inning of KU’s game. The final day of the tournament is Sunday Fun Day and tickets are two for the price of one. Prior to the game on Sunday, the second set of 2015 Kansas softball trading cards will be handed out.
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
- Eight members of the Jayhawk starting lineup are hitting above .300 in 2015 and contributing to KU’s .351 batting average, which is the second-best team average in the Big 12 Conference. Juniors Chaley Brickey and Briana Evans are hitting over .400 after posting .414 and .404 batting averages, respectively.
- 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 25-2 on the season, which is the best record by a Kansas team 27 games into a 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 seventh week of the season, KU jumped to No. 22 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll and moved up two spots to No. 22. 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 188-73 in 27 games, including seven shutouts and a no-hitter. KU scores its most runs during the first and third frames after plating 37 and 31 runs, respectively.
- After 27 games, the Jayhawks have outhit their opponents 254-128 and own a 22-0 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 27 games of the season, KU’s defense has committed only 16 errors in 173 innings and has a .977 fielding percentage.
SCOUTING EASTERN MICHIGAN
The Eagles head into the Rock Chalk Challenge with a 6-10 record on the season. Three Eastern Michigan Eagles are batting over .300 with Sophomore Michelle Kriegshauser leading the team’s offensive efforts. Kriegshauser has earned a .385 batting average and leads the team with six extra-base knocks and 13 RBIs this season. Collectively, the Eagles are batting .266 with 118 hits and 51 RBIs.
The pitching staff is led by senior hurler Lindsay Rich who has a 4.96 ERA striking out 44 batters in 66.1 innings of work. As a staff, the Eagles have combined for a 5.41 ERA pitching 112.2 innings and tossing 69 strikeouts.
UMKC heads west for the Rock Chalk Challenge boasting a 13-12 record on the season, winning three of its last four games. The squad has combined for a .319 batting average recording 238 hits, including 33 home runs. The ‘Roos are powered by utility Katie Kelley who is hitting a team-best .411 batting average, contributing 13 doubles and 11 home runs in her junior campaign. Kelley also leads the lineup with 36 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .922. After 18 starts, junior Brooke Parker adds speed to UMCK’s roster, swiping 14 bases in her 16 attempts.
In the circle, the ‘Roos have posted a 5.16 ERA, striking out 134 in 169.2 innings of work. The pitching staff is led by senior Cinda Ramos who has tossed 47 strikeouts after pitching 52.1 innings.
SCOUTING GEORGIA STATE
Georgia State enters this weekend with a 19-3 mark in 2015, having lost only one of their last 17 match ups. The Panthers, who were picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference, have already kicked-off their conference slate boasting a 5-1 record.
The Panther offense is headed by freshman Ivie Drake who has registered a .545 batting average and a 1.045 slugging percentage. The Carlton, Georgia native leads the team with 36 hits, nine doubles, and 31 RBIs. Senior Callie Alford is contributing a .408 batting average and is tied for a team-best eight home runs. Combined, Georgia State is batting .346 and has recorded 209 hits, including 80 extra-base hits, this season. The pitching staff has a collective ERA of 4.19, delivering 108 strikeouts in 145.1 innings pitched. Sophomore hurler Taylor Thorpe has a perfect 10-0 mark in the circle, tossing 62.0 innings of work and striking out 26 batters faced.
Along with a hot start to the season, Kansas softball has some streaks that continue to extend with each game in 2015. Senior utility Maddie Stein owns the longest hitting streak of the season at 10-straight games. Junior Briana Evans has posted the longest streak for reaching base safely after making it aboard in 25-straight 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.
KANSAS ON THE NATIONAL RADAR
Kansas softball jumped one spot to No. 22 in the USA Today/NFCA poll during the seventh week of the season. KU also moved up two to the 22nd 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 four weeks.
HOME RUN FUN
The Jayhawks have launched a total of 23 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 to lead KU in that statistical category. Kansas has also posted eight grand slams so far this season by five different members of the roster, including a walk-off from senior utility Maddie Stein against Omaha (3/15). Chavez leads the squad with three grand slams this season and is four away from setting a new national single-season record.
RACKING UP RBIS
Senior utility Maddie Stein led the team with 49 RBIs in 2013, which is the second-most in Kansas single-season history, and tallied 40 during the 2014 season. With 137 RBIs in her career, Stein is third in Kansas softball history and needs four more to set a new all-time record surpassing Maggie Hull, who holds record with 140 RBIs in her four-year career as a Jayhawk.
Following the Rock Chalk Challenge, the Jayhawks play Drake on Tuesday, March 24 prior to opening Big 12 Conference action March 27-29 against Texas to conclude its 12-game homestand. The series against the Longhorns begins at 5 p.m., on Friday, March 27.
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