Kansas Heads South to Face No. 15 Oklahoma
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball hits the road for its first road test of the 2014 Big 12 season as the Jayhawks travel to No. 15 Oklahoma April 4-6. The two programs are undefeated in conference action and will square off for the top spot in the Big 12 standings. The series begins on April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Marita Hynes Field at the OU Softball Complex.
FOLLOWING THE JAYHAWKS
Live stats are offered for all the Jayhawks’ games during the 2014 season and are available via KUAthletics.com. Fans can listen to every home game through Jayhawk Digital Passport, which is available at 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 28-10 and has won 17 of the last 20 games, including a series sweep over Oklahoma State to open the 2014 Big 12 slate. The 3-0 record is the best start in Big 12 action since the Jayhawks opened 1997 with a 9-0 mark.
- The Jayhawks defeated then-No. 8 Kentucky 7-5 on March 23 and extended their streak of defeating a nationally-ranked opponent to five-consecutive seasons under head coach Megan Smith.
- KU has outscored opponents 191-68 after 38 games. Kansas has a 24-4 advantage when scoring first in the ballgame and has outscored opponents 34-9 in the first frame.
- The Jayhawks have outhit opponents in 28-of-38 games this season. Kansas owns a 25-3 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 second-best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.978) after committing only 22 errors in 258 innings.
- The last four weeks a Jayhawk has been honored with Big 12 Player/Pitcher of the Week honors. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler, sophomore infielder Chaley Brickey, junior pitcher Alicia Pille and freshman catcher Harli Ridling all earned Big 12 weekly honors in 2014. It ties for the program record of the most weekly accolades in a season, which was also achieved in 2006.
- Six Jayhawks are hitting above .300 on the season. Brickey leads the offensive charge with a .402 batting average.
- Sophomore Kelsey Kessler leads the Kansas pitching staff and the nation with 207 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 seven games.
KANSAS VS. OKLAHOMA: THE SERIES
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 52-41, which began in 1978 in Norman, Okla. The Jayhawks lost the first game of the series, 2-5, but went on to win the next seven meetings. The longest KU win streak over the Sooners was 10-straight games from 1988-91. In the final game of the 2013 series, Kansas snapped an eight-game losing streak to OU after shutting out the Sooners 2-0 on Senior Day. It marked the program’s first victory over a No. 1-ranked opponent.
LAST TIME OUT
The last meeting between the Jayhawks and Sooners was on May 5, 2013. Shortstop Chaley Brickey went 2-for-3 with the only RBI of the game, when her 12th double of the year brought home the first Jayhawk run. Riding Kelsey Kessler’s fifth shutout of the season, Kansas made the lead stand for all seven innings. Kessler scattered seven hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out four. She stranded nine total in the win, including four in scoring position. The Jayhawks shutout Oklahoma, 2-0, for Kansas’ first win over a top-ranked team and split the Sunday doubleheader.
SCOUTING THE SOONERS
Oklahoma heads into the weekend series ranked No. 15 in the country with a 25-8 record and sits atop the Big 12 standings with a 4-0 league mark. The Sooners opened the conference slate by sweeping Iowa State and improved to 4-0 with a win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Oklahoma has a seven-game win streak on the line and is looking to stay perfect in Big 12 action.
Offensively, the Sooners are hitting .309 on the year, which is fifth in the conference standings, and have five players batting above .300. Oklahoma has tallied 48 doubles, six triples, 45 home runs and 225 RBIs. Shelby Pendley is hitting a team-best .415 with 13 doubles, 11 home runs and 41 RBIs for a .849 slugging percentage. She also has collected 20 walks and has an on-base percentage of .508. Pendley leads the Big 12 in doubles with 13.
In the circle, OU’s pitching staff has a 2.76 ERA with a combined 172 strikeouts. The Sooners have tossed 11 complete games and six shutouts. Opponents are hitting .245 off the Oklahoma pitchers. Kelsey Stevens is 17-5 on the year with a 2.19 ERA and 128 strikeouts. She has thrown 11 complete games and two shutouts in 128 innings of work. Stevens has given up 107 hits, 56 walks and 40 earned runs. Opponents are hitting .223 when Stevens is in the circle.
KANSAS OFF AND RUNNING
The Jayhawks opened their Big 12 slate with a 3-0 mark after sweeping Oklahoma State March 28-30. The undefeated record in the opening series is the best start to Big 12 play since Kansas began the 1997 season 9-0.
AMONG THE BEST IN THE NATION
Kansas is among the top in the country in several statistical categories. The Jayhawks have posted the ninth-best fielding percentage in the nation at .978 and are ranked No. 9 in the country in staff ERA at 1.52. Individually, sophomore Kelsey Kessler leads the nation in strikeouts (207) and is eighth in shutouts (7), 13th in victories (17) and her 1.36 ERA is the 28th-best ERA in the nation. Freshman Harli Ridling is eighth in the nation in hit-by-pitch per game (0.49), while senior Ashley Newman is third in sacrifice hits per game (0.41). Senior Taylor Hatfield is 29th in the country in triples (3).
AND THE WINNER IS…
For four-straight weeks a Jayhawk has earned Big 12 honors after sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler became the latest Big 12 honoree for the week of March 30. Freshman Harli Ridling (March 23), junior Alicia Pille (March 16) and sophomore infielder Chaley Brickey (March 9) also earned Big 12 weekly honor this season.
RUN JAYHAWKS RUN
Kansas has outscored opponents 191-68 and has ended six games early due to the run-rule this season. When a Jayhawk runner scores first, KU has a 24-4 advantage. Kansas scores more runs during the fifth inning than any other in 2014 and has outscored the opposition 35-8 in the fifth frame.
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 has played and was No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA Poll when the two programs met on the diamond. 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 concludes its five-game road streak and its non-conference schedule at UMKC on Tuesday, April 8 at 6 p.m. The Jayhawks will enjoy their bye weekend before hosting Texas Tech April 17-19 at Arrocha Ballpark.
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