No. 22 Kansas Opens Big 12 Action with Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball begins the 2015 Big 12 Conference slate this weekend hosting Texas in a three-game series March 27-29, at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park concluding an 11-game homestand. The series debut is the first of four appearances for KU softball on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3.
AROUND THE DIAMOND
The Jayhawks Big 12 opener is a fun-filled weekend surrounding the diamond. Kansas kicks off the series with Salute to Services Night on Friday at 5 p.m. The excitement continues on Saturday (2 p.m.) with Party in the Park and concludes on Sunday with Bark in the Park (noon). Log on to KUAthletics.com for more information on the weekend activities.
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
- Head coach Megan Smith recorded her 300th career win after the Jayhawks defeated Georgia State, 5-4, on March 22. Smith is one win away from guiding Kansas to its fifth-straight 30-win season.
- Senior utility Maddie Stein became the all-time RBI leader in Kansas softball history on March 22 after recording her 141st career RBI with a home run to left field.
- 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 29-2 on the season, which is the best record by a Kansas team 31 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.
- Seven members of the Jayhawk starting lineup are hitting above .300 in 2015 and contributing to KU’s .347 batting average, which is the second-best team average in the Big 12 Conference. Junior Chaley Brickey and sophomore Lily Behrmann are hitting over .400 after posting .418 and .407 batting averages, respectively.
- The Jayhawks have outscored their opponents 219-87 in 31 games, including seven shutouts and a no-hitter. KU scores its most runs during the first and third frames after plating 55 and 39 runs, respectively. Kansas has a 17-0 record when scoring a run in the first inning and has a 23-0 mark when the Jayhawks strike first putting a run on the scoreboard.
- After 31 games, the Jayhawks have outhit their opponents 282-150 and own a 24-0 record when outhitting the team in the other dugout.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
Texas finished the 2014 conference season in fourth place and, along with KU, was one of four Big 12 teams to appear in the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns were selected to end the 2015 campaign in third place, as voted on by the league coaches. Currently, Texas has a 20-9 mark on the year and is receiving votes both major softball polls. Heading into the three-game series, the Longhorns have won six of their last seven games, including a doubleheader sweep over UTSA (3/24).
Sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong is one of six Longhorns hitting over .300 and leads the squad with a .349 batting average. She is second on the team hits with 29, while also recording 11 walks and 11 RBIs. Junior utility Holly Kern has recorded a team-high 26 RBIs, while junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens has posted a team-best seven home runs. Collectively, Texas is batting .297 on the season with 229 hits, including 64 extra-base hits, and 157 RBIs.
In the circle, the Longhorns have registered a 2.74 ERA, which is the third-lowest mark in the conference. Texas has thrown a combined 180 strikeouts, while allowing 169 hits and 98 walks. Senior Gabby Smith has recorded a team-best 1.53 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 45.2 innings of work, while posting a 6-1 mark on the season. In 12 starts, freshman Erica Wright owns an 8-4 record in the circle with a 2.15 ERA and team-high 82 strikeouts.
HOME RUN FUN
The Jayhawks have launched a total of 29 balls over the outfield wall in 2015, which is the third-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 six long balls to lead KU in that statistical category. Kansas has also posted nine grand slams so far this season by six 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.
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 12-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, and currently have a 10-game winning streaking intact heading into the midweek match up. The longest winning streak in Kansas softball history is 20 games, set in 2012.
Kansas has been defensively sound the past few seasons and continues the trend in 2015. KU has a .979 fielding percentage after committing only 17 errors in 199 innings, which is the second-best percentage in the conference and ninth in the nation. The Jayhawks’ defense was rarely found making an error during the 2014 season. Kansas led the Big 12, and finished second in the country, in fielding percentage after posting a .979 mark last season. KU’s conference-best fielding percentage topped the program record of a .976 fielding percentage set in 2013.
JAYHAWKS AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Kansas is among the top in the country in several statistical categories. The Jayhawks have the third-best winning percentage in the nation (.935) with a 29-2 record. KU is ninth in fielding percentage (.979) and 11th in on-base percentage (.447), while also posting the 12th-best batting average (.347). Individually, senior utility Maddie Stein is eighth in the nation in sacrifice flies (4), while junior infielder Chaley Brickey ranks No. 20 in the country in RBIs (38). Senior hurler Alicia Pille is 11th in shutouts (5) and second in victories (18). She is also ranks 25th in strikeouts (131).
HOW KANSAS STACKS UP IN THE BIG 12
The Jayhawks own the second-best batting average (.347) in the Big 12 Conference while in the circle, KU has the third-lowest ERA (2.81). Kansas also has the second-best fielding percentage (.979) in the league. Senior utility Maddie Stein has tallied a conference-leading 10 doubles, while senior infielder Chanin Naudin is right behind with eight. Junior infielder Chaley Brickey is second in league in RBIs (38) and ranks third in hits (41). Freshman infielder Daniella Chavez is third in RBIs (36) and junior outfielder Briana Evans is fourth in hits (40). Senior pitcher Alicia Pille is among the top three in nearly every pitching category. She has posted a 1.95 ERA, which is the fourth-lowest ERA and leads the Big 12 in wins (18), strikeouts (131) and saves (3).
WALK IT OUT
In 31 games this season, Kansas has recorded a combined 138 base on balls, averaging 4.5 per game. The Jayhawks are 36 walks away from setting a new team single-season record. The most walks recorded in a season is 173, which was achieved during the 2011 campaign. Sophomore utility Lily Behrmann leads the team with 28 walks. Last season, junior infielder Chaley Brickey drew a team-high 42 walks, setting a new single-season record after surpassing the previous mark of 35 set by Tracy Bunge in 1985. The Jayhawks recorded a game-high seven walks against Oklahoma State on March 30, 2014.
For the first time in more than two weeks, Kansas hits the road to begin an eight-game stretch away from Arrocha Ballpark. The Jayhawks heads south for their first Big 12 Conference series on the road, April 2-4, at Oklahoma State.
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