Kansas Begins Six-Game Road Swing at No. 14 Baylor
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas softball will play six of the final nine games of 2014 on the road, which begins with a three-game series at Baylor April 25-27 at Getterman Stadium. The series is set to begin on Friday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m., and is KU’s first trip to Waco since 2012. The Jayhawks are 11-10 against the Bears in Waco.
FOLLOWING THE JAYHAWKS
Saturday afternoon’s game will be televised on the FOX Sports Southwest with Brenda VanLengen and Tracy Warren calling the action. Fans can also listen to every home game through Jayhawk Digital Passport, which is available at KUAthletics.com. 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 one win away from reaching the 30-win plateau for the fourth-consecutive season under head coach Megan Smith. KU closes out the season with six of its final nine games on the road. The Jayhawks are 29-16 in 2014 and 22-12 away from Arrocha Ballpark.
- KU leads the overall series 25-22 and have won two of the last four meetings against Baylor. The last two contests versus the Bears was decided by one run.
- The Jayhawks defeated then-No. 8 Kentucky 7-5 on March 23 and extended their streak of defeating at least one nationally-ranked opponent to five-consecutive seasons under Smith.
- KU has outscored opponents 211-110 after 45 games. Kansas has a 25-5 advantage when scoring first in the ballgame. The Jayhawks have outhit opponents in 29-of-45 games this season. Kansas owns a 26-4 record when out hitting its opponents.
- Five Jayhawks are hitting above .300 on the season. Brickey leads the offensive charge with a .394 batting average.
- Sophomore Kelsey Kessler leads the Kansas pitching staff with 217 strikeouts on the season, which is second in the Big 12, 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. BAYLOR: THE SERIES
The Jayhawks have a 25-22 advantage in the overall series against the Bears, which began in 1981 with a KU victory, 5-3, in Waco. Kansas has won two of the last four meetings versus Baylor. The Jayhawks won 10 of the first 11 meetings between the two programs. The last two contests have been decided by one run. KU will look to start a win streak against the ranked Bears after dropping the 2013 series finale, 5-4.
LAST TIME OUT
Mariah Montgomery’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh put the game-tying run on third, but Baylor All-American Whitney Canion halted the Kansas rally with a strikeout to defeat Kansas, 5-4, in the last meeting on April 28. Montgomery finished the game 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk. Kelsey Kessler tossed a complete game and struck out five.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
No. 14 Baylor has an overall mark of 32-12 heading into Wednesday night’s midweek match-up with UTSA. The Bears are sitting in third place in the conference standings with a 6-4 record. BU has lost three of its last five games prior to the midweek contest.
Offensively, the Bears are hitting .302 as a team, which is the fourth-best team batting average in the league. Baylor has collected 48 doubles, five triples, 46 home runs and 2014 RBIs for a .469 slugging percentage. A total of five starters are hitting .300 or better. Kaitlyn Thumann leads the squad with a .401 batting average and 11 doubles. Clare Hosack leads the team with 35 RBIs and is tied for the most home runs after hitting nine out of the park. Ari Hawkins has stolen a team-best 13 bases in 2014.
In the circle, the Bears have the lowest staff ERA (1.64) in the conference. BU has hurled 347 strikeouts, 12 shutouts and 22 complete games. Baylor’s pitching staff has given up 213 hits, 70 earned runs and 93 walks, while allowing opponents to hit .195. Whitney Canion is 18-9 in 2014 with 195 strikeouts and a 1.56 ERA. She leads the league with eight shutouts and has the lowest opposing batting average (.162) in the Big 12. Heather Stearns has an 11-3 mark this season and has 103 strikeouts with a 1.64 ERA in 89.2 innings of work.
NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT
Through 302.1 innings of play this season, the Jayhawk defense has committed only 29 errors for the Big 12’s second-best fielding percentage (.975). A year ago, Kansas broke the program fielding percentage record with a .976 mark, which finished eighth in the NCAA.
WALK IT OUT
The Jayhawks have recorded 144 walks after 45 games in the 2014 campaign. Sophomore Chaley Brickey has tallied a team-high 34 walks this season, while senior Alex Jones has collected 17. Kansas’ individual single-season record for walks is 36 set in 1985 by Tracy Bunge.
AROUND THE CONFERENCE
Kansas is among the top half of several Big 12 statistical categories in 2014. The Jayhawk defense has the second-best fielding percentage in the conference (.975), while KU’s pitching staff has the second-lowest ERA at 2.15. Individually, sophomore Kelsey Kessler is second in the conference in strikeouts (217), is second in shutouts (7), is tied for second in complete games (18), is tied for fourth in victories (17) and ranks fourth in opposing batting average (.201). Junior Alicia Pille is eighth in the conference in strikeouts (117) and is tied for third in shutouts (6). Sophomore Chaley Brickey is first in walks (34) and third in home runs (10). Junior Maddie Stein is eighth in the Big 12 in hits (56) and ranks sixth in RBIs (37). Senior Taylor Hatfield is tied for third in triples (3), while freshman Harli Ridling is tied for eighth in the conference in home runs (8). Junior Chanin Naudin is tied for second in the league in doubles (13).
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 2-6 on the year against opponents ranked in the top 25. then-No. 8 Kentucky is the latest top-25 team to get upset by Kansas. The Jayhawks beat UK 7-5 on March 23.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Jayhawks played the first five weekends of the 2014 season away from Lawrence, competing in 24-straight games on the road before their home opener on March 11 against South Dakota State. Kansas is 22-12 on the road to start 2014. In 2013, Kansas was 12-7 in true road games and 25-8 away from Arrocha Ballpark during the non-conference slate.
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