No. 23 Kansas Heads to Stillwater for First Big 12 Road Test
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball hits the road for the first time in nearly a month for its first Big 12 Conference road series of the 2015 season. The Jayhawks head south for a three-game series against Oklahoma State, April 2-4, at Cowgirl Stadium. KU looks to snap a three-game losing skid on the road against the Cowgirls.
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 29-5 on the season, which is the best record by a Kansas team 34 games into a season.
• The Jayhawks’ red-hot start to the 2015 campaign has put Kansas on the national radar. Heading into the eighth week of the season, KU is ranked No. 23 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. It marks the first time since 2011 that the Jayhawks have been nationally-ranked and sixth week in a row to earn a national ranking.
• Six members of the Jayhawk starting lineup are hitting above .300 in 2015 and contributing to KU’s .339 batting average, which is the second-best team average in the Big 12 Conference. Junior Chaley Brickey and sophomore Lily Behrmann are nearly hitting .400 after posting .398 and .394 batting averages, respectively.
• Kansas has recorded 36 home runs on the season from seven different Jayhawks. Of the 36 homers, nine have been grand slams. Junior infielder Chaley Brickey and freshman infielder Daniella Chavez lead the team with eight long balls each. Chavez also has hit a team-best three grand slams.
• The Jayhawks have outscored their opponents 229-111 in 34 games, including seven shutouts and a no-hitter. KU scores its most runs during the first and third frames after plating 58 and 40 runs, respectively. Kansas has a 17-2 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 34 games, the Jayhawks have outhit their opponents 304-185 and own a 24-0 record when outhitting the team in the other dugout.
SCOUTING THE COWGIRLS
The Cowgirls return home to host their first Big 12 series of the season when Kansas comes to Stillwater. After finishing sixth last season, OSU was projected to be in fourth place in conference play at the conclusion of the 2015 season. Oklahoma State began its conference slate at Baylor. The Cowgirls dropped the first two games in Waco, but walked away victorious in the series finale, 1-0. On the year, OSU has a 17-18 overall record and has won nine of its 11 home games.
Collectively, the squad has registered a .285 batting average, while hitting 63 extra-base knocks. Senior outfielder Shelby Davis is one of five Cowgirls hitting over .300 and leads the team with a batting average of .442 and 46 hits. Davis also contributes speed on the base path, swiping 39 bases in her 44 attempts. Junior infielder Tiffany Mikkelson has proven to have power at the plate, launching a team-high eight home runs, while also recording eight doubles and two triples. Her aggressive hitting has registered a team-best .760 slugging percentage and 33 RBIs.
In the circle, OSU has posted an ERA of 3.91 in 225.2 innings of work, striking out 109 batters. The Cowgirls’ pitching staff is led by freshman hurler Jessi Haffner, who boasts a 4-2 record this season. Haffner has tossed 27 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched and registered an ERA of 3.16. With 14 starts, sophomore Brandi Needham has a 3.71 ERA in 98.0 innings of work and struck out 46 batters.
KANSAS ON THE NATIONAL RADAR
Kansas enters the eighth week of the season at No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. KU has held a spot in at least one of the major softball polls for the last six weeks. The Jayhawks’ first appearance in the polls this season was the first time that Kansas had been nationally ranked since 2011.
HOME RUN FUN
The Jayhawks have launched a total of 36 balls over the outfield wall in 2015, which is tied for second-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 eight 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. Twice this season, Kansas has recorded five home runs in a game, which is one homer shy of a KU single-game record.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
While Kansas will play its most home games (22) since 2009, the Jayhawks opened the season on the road, playing the first five weeks of the 2015 campaign away from Lawrence. KU played a total of 23-straight games on the road before making its debut in Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park on March 13. After their first five weekends on the road, the Jayhawks compiled a 21-2 mark with their only two losses against Chattanooga and at No. 1 Florida.
JAYHAWKS AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Kansas is among the top in the country in several statistical categories. The Jayhawks have the eighth-best winning percentage in the nation (.853) with a 29-5 record. KU is 12th in fielding percentage (.976) and 18th in on-base percentage (.437), while also posting the 20th-best batting average (.339). Individually, senior utility Maddie Stein is 10th in the nation in sacrifice flies (4), while junior infielder Chaley Brickey ranks No. 26 in the country in RBIs (41). Senior hurler Alicia Pille is 14th in shutouts (5) and seventh in victories (18). She is also ranks 29th in strikeouts (135).
CLIMBING THE STRIKEOUT RANKS
Senior right-hander Alicia Pille has tossed 608 strikeouts, which is sixth-most in Kansas history. She needs 32 more to surpass Tracy Bunge and move into fifth place. Pille is one of six Jayhawk pitchers to record 600 or more strikeouts in their career. Stephani Williams holds the record for most strikeouts in a career with 938.
Kansas stays on the road and continues its eight-game stretch away from Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park when the Jayhawks head to the Lone Star State for a three-game series against Texas Tech, April 10-12.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.