Jayhawks Travel to Wichita State Wednesday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball hits the road again for a midweek contest, which concludes its eight-game span on the road, on Wednesday, March 26, against Wichita State at 6 p.m. inside the Wilkins Softball Facility. It’s the final non-conference test before the Jayhawks begin their Big 12 Slate on Friday, March 28 against Oklahoma State at Arrocha Ballpark.
Following the Jayhawks
Live stats are offered for all the Jayhawks’ games during the 2014 season 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 is 24-10 and has won 13 of the last 16 games, including a 7-5 victory over then-No. 8 Kentucky (3/23). The win over the Wildcats extends the streak of defeating a nationally-ranked opponent to five-consecutive seasons under head coach Megan Smith.
- KU has outscored opponents 174-66 after 34 games. Kansas has a 20-4 advantage when scoring first in the ball game and has outscored opponents 29-9 in the first frame.
- The Jayhawks have outhit opponents in 26-of-34 games this season. Kansas owns a 23-3 record when out hitting its opponents.
- 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 (.979) after committing only 18 errors in 227 innings.
- Six Jayhawk starters are hitting above .300 on the season. Brickey leads the offensive charge with a .400 batting average.
- Sophomore Kelsey Kessler leads the Kansas pitching staff with 171 strikeouts on the season and is just the fifth sophomore Jayhawk pitcher to hurl 140 or more strikeouts in a single season. Kessler recorded a career-high 15 Ks earlier this season against Chattanooga (2/9) and has struck out 10 or more batters in five games. Kessler is one strikeout away from KU’s top 10 career list.
- Junior Maddie Stein has the longest hitting streak by a Jayhawk after recording at least one hit in 12-straight games. Sophomore Chaley Brickey has the second-longest hitting streak after registering a hit in the last 11 games. Senior Taylor Hatfield has the longest active hitting streak with a hit in the last 10 games.
KANSAS VS. WICHITA STATE: THE SERIES
Kansas leads the overall series against the Shockers 69-17. The Jayhawks have won five-straight games and nine of the last 10 meetings. The first meeting was a 7-5 victory for KU in 1978 and the last meeting was in 2012 when KU defeated Wichita State 8-3. Kansas has shut out WSU in 30 of its 69 victories and won 16 games in a row from 1988-93.
SCOUTING THE SHOCKERS
Wichita State has an 18-11 mark coming into the midweek match-up against the Jayhawks. The Shockers have won their last three games and five of the past seven contests. WSU is batting .311 with 47 doubles, seven triples, 28 home runs and 159 RBIs for a slugging percentage of .493. The Shockers have recorded 34 stolen bases in 41 attempts with Melanie Jaegers and Kelli Spring leading the way with nine stolen bases each. Paige Luellen is batting a team-high .411 with eight doubles, a triple and a team-leading six home runs. She also has recorded 32 RBIs and 22 runs scored. In the circle, the Shockers pitching staff has a 4.35 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 196.1 innings pitched. Wichita State’s pitching staff has allowed 244 hits and 73 walks. Sloan Anderson has a 3.91 ERA after 91.1 innings of work and has struck out team-high 69 batters. She is 7-9 in the circle with three saves. Kaitlyn Malone has a 9-2 mark with a 4.63 ERA and 47 strikeouts. She also has earned three saves.
AMONG THE BEST IN THE NATION
Kansas is among the top in the country in several statistical categories. The Jayhawks posted the sixth-best fielding percentage in the nation at .979 and are ranked No. 16 in the country in staff ERA at 1.70. Individually, sophomore Kelsey Kessler is second in the country in strikeouts (171) just two Ks behind the national leader. She is 10th in shutouts (6), 14th in victories (14) and her 1.57 ERA is the 55th-best ERA in the nation. Freshman Harli Ridling is ninth in the nation in hit-by-pitch per game (0.44), while senior Ashley Newman is fourth in sacrifice hits per game (0.41). Senior Taylor Hatfield is 20th in the country in triples (3).
AROUND THE CONFERENCE
Kansas is among the top half of several Big 12 statistical categories in 2014. The Jayhawk defense has the best fielding percentage in the conference (.979), while KU’s pitching staff has the second-lowest ERA at 1.70. Individually, sophomore Kelsey Kessler leads the conference in strikeouts (171) and shutouts (6), is second in complete games (15), tied for second in victories (14) and ranks fourth in opposing batting average (.180). Junior Alicia Pille is eighth in the conference in strikeouts (86), second in shutouts (5) and is fifth in opposing batting average (.196). Sophomore Chaley Brickey is third in the league in doubles (9), is second in walks (27), and fifth in home runs (7). Junior Maddie Stein is third in the Big 12 in both hits (46) and in RBIs (31). Senior Taylor Hatfield is tied for second in triples (3), while senior Alex Jones is seventh in stolen bases (10). Freshman Harli Ridling is fourth in the conference in home runs (8) and has the seventh-best slugging percentage (.637).
KANSAS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
The Jayhawks face six teams during the 2014 season that are currently ranked in USA Today/NFCA poll or the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Kentucky is the highest nationally-ranked opponent that Kansas will play in 2014 and is No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA Poll. KU is 2-3 on the year against opponents ranked in the top 25. No. 8 Kentucky is the latest top-25 team to get upset by Kansas. The Jayhawks beat UK 7-5 on March 23.
Kansas opens its Big 12 slate with Oklahoma State March 28-30 at Arrocha Ballpark. The series begins on Friday, March 28 at 5 p.m.
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