NCAA Tournament: KU Finishes Final Prep for Columbia Regional
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Kansas softball finished its final preparations during practice Thursday afternoon at University Field in Columbia, Missouri. The Jayhawks have one day remaining until kicking off the 2014 NCAA Tournament with a rematch against No. 19 Nebraska on Friday, May 16 at 12:30 p.m. In 2014, head coach Megan Smith has guided KU to its 11th overall postseason appearance and first since 2006. Fans can listen to all the Regional action on Jayhawk Digital Passport and watch for free via the Mizzou Network through the Tigers’ website.
LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- The Jayhawks have won four of their last five games, including a series sweep over Big 12 foe Iowa State to close out the regular season.
- Kansas reached the 30-win plateau for the fourth-consecutive season under head coach Megan Smith after the 5-2 win at Texas on May 3. KU ended the regular season with a 33-21 mark and a fifth-place finish in the Big 12.
- 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 239-149 after 54 games. Kansas has a 28-5 advantage when scoring first in the ballgame. The Jayhawks have outhit opponents in 34-of-54 games this season. Kansas owns a 30-5 record when out hitting its opponents.
- Kansas had two earn All-Big 12 honors at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season. Sophomore Chaley Brickey was selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while junior Maddie Stein was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Brickey and sophomore Kelsey Kessler were also named NFCA All-Region selections.
KANSAS VS. NEBRASKA: THE SERIES
Friday afternoon’s rematch against the Cornhuskers marks the 104th meeting between the two programs. It is the second time in 2014 that Kansas faces Nebraska. Prior to the 2014 season, the two squads had not met on the diamond since Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten in 2011. The Huskers have a one-game lead in the all-time series, 52-51. The Jayhawks are looking to snap Nebraska’s five-game winning streak.
LAST TIME OUT
Nebraska edged Kansas, 1-0, in the first meeting between the two programs on March 15. The Jayhawks’ loss snapped an eight-game winning streak and a five-game streak of shutouts. The Huskers’ lone run in the second inning ended the pitching staffs scoreless streak at 34 innings. Kansas scattered three hits and had the tying run in scoring position in the seventh, but Nebraska halted the comeback and sealed the victory. Sophomore Kelsey Kessler went the distance throwing a complete game and struck out seven Huskers batters.
Joining the Jayhawks at the Columbia Regional are host Missouri (41-16, 15-9 SEC), Bradley (27-30, 15-12 Missouri Valley) and Nebraska (40-15, 18-5 Big Ten). It is the sixth-consecutive year that the Tigers have hosted a regional. The winner of the double-elimination regional will face the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional in the Super Regionals, which will be held on a campus site May 23-25.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Jayhawks have made 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the Women’s College World Series in 1992. KU’s first NCAA appearance was in 1983 and last was in 2006. From 1992-94, the Jayhawks made three-straight appearances in the field of 64 for the longest postseason streak in Kansas history. The Jayhawks hosted a regional in the 1992 and 1994 NCAA Tournament. Overall, Kansas is 14-20 in the NCAA Tournament.
During the 2014 regular season, Kansas played 12 opponents and 20 contests against programs that are appearing in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks have a 7-13 mark against teams that are competing in this year’s NCAA Tournament. KU recorded impressive wins over No. 15 Kentucky, Texas, South Florida and UCF.
BRICKEY, STEIN EARN ALL-BIG 12 Honors
Sophomore shortstop Chaley Brickey was selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team and junior first baseman Maddie Stein was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. It marks the second-straight year that Brickey has garnered second-team accolades by the Big 12 and first all-defensive team selection for Stein, who also earned second-team honors in 2012.
Kansas’ defense set a program record after ending the regular season with a .979 fielding percentage, which is only 29 errors in 54 games. The previous record was .976 and was set during the 2013 season. Last season, the Jayhawks finished the year with the eighth-best fielding percentage and currently have the third-best fielding percentage in the nation prior to the postseason.
Kansas faces No. 19 Nebraska on Friday, May 16 with first pitch is slated for 12:30 p.m. Fans can listen to all the regional action on Jayhawk Digital Passport and watch the games from University Field in Columbia on the Mizzou Network.
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