Chavez Top Frosh, Five Jayhawks Honored by Big 12
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Daniella Chavez set a new Kansas single-season mark for RBIs, tied the KU freshman record for home runs and batted better than .400 in league contests, prompting the Big 12 Conference to select her as co-Freshman of the Year as five total Jayhawks earned recognition Wednesday.
Chavez, who became KU’s second Big 12 Freshman of the Year honoree and first since Kara Pierce in 2001, was also selected to the All-Big 12 First Team at designated player along with junior shortstop Chaley Brickey. Senior first baseman Maddie Stein earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors and was one of three Jayhawks – Taylor McElhaney and Brickey – on the Big 12’s All-Defensive Team. Chavez and catcher Jess Roane were named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
Chavez finished the regular season by battering Iowa State in a three-game road sweep, adding three home runs to finish with a team-best 15 and drove in 11 runs to push her tally 65 RBI on the year – part of a blistering .404 batting average in one of the toughest conferences in the nation and 29 total RBI in 18 league games. Chavez’ effort helped Kansas to a 38-13 (8-10 Big 12) mark and the team’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth under head coach Megan Smith. The Crowley, Texas native shared top freshman honors with Oklahoma’s Paige Parker.
Brickey belted 13 home runs and drove in 55 runs as Kansas’ most consistent offensive threat with a team-best .393 batting average. A two-time All-Big 12 Second Team selection, the Haltom City, Texas product has been picked as one of the league’s finest by the coaches in all three seasons as a Jayhawk. One of the league’s smoothest defensive players, Brickey started all 51 games at shortstop and collected a team-best-tying 85 putouts while posting a .970 fielding percentage.
Stein returned to the All-Big 12 Second Team as a senior after earning the same honor after a breakout freshman campaign. The Oklahoma City native was third on the team with a .368 batting average and nearly doubled her career home run tally with six blasts in her last season as a Jayhawk. A rock solid contributor at the plate with a .454 on-base percentage, Stein also shined defensively at first base with just one error for a .997 fielding percentage.
McElhaney earned Big 12 All-Defensive Team recognition at second base, handling a sophomore-year transition to second base in near flawless fashion after starting 47 games as an outfielder as a freshman. McElhaney regularly made difficult plays look routine and recorded Kansas’ third-most putouts (109) and assists (67) while committing just three errors all season for a .983 fielding percentage.
Thrust into the starting lineup at catcher due to a returner’s injury, Roane proved she belonged with a .340 batting average and .429 on-base percentage while catching nearly every game for the Jayhawks. Roane threw out 10 would-be base stealers and logged a .981 fielding mark behind the plate.
Oklahoma’s Shelby Pendley was named the Big 12’s Player of the Year, while Sooner skipper Patty Gasso was tabbed as the league’s Coach of the Year. OU’s Parker was selected as the Pitcher of the Year in addition to sharing top freshman honors with Chavez.
Kansas opens NCAA Tournament competition against Louisville on Friday, May 15 at 4 p.m., in a game which will air on ESPN3. The Jayhawks’ remaining games at the Columbia (Mo.) Regional will be broadcast on either ESPN3 or the SEC Network+. Additionally, every Kansas softball game will air on the Jayhawk Radio Network, freely accessible at KUAthletics.com or via the Kansas Jayhawks mobile app.
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