KU Softball Awards Announced, Jones Earns Big Jay Honor
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fifth-year senior Alex Jones was named the recipient of the 2014 Big Jay award as selected by the Kansas softball coaches and support staff. Jones’ award highlighted the list of honors presented at the conclusion of the season, which saw the Jayhawks compete in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
KU opened the NCAA Tournament with a 3-1 upset over No. 19 Nebraska and finished the season 34-23, marking the fourth-consecutive 30-win campaign under fifth-year head coach Megan Smith.
Jones, an Enid, Oklahoma, native, received the Big Jay award, which is presented to the student-athlete that best exemplifies what it means to be a part of Kansas softball on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Jones was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and also named the recipient of the 2014 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Student-Athlete Award.
Also a very active member of the athletic department, KU campus and Lawrence community, Jones was the Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and was an instrumental part of Kansas’ Soles for Souls collection during the fall of 2013. Jones has also helped out with the Douglas County Special Olympics, READ program, Fun and Fitness, The Shelter, Inc. and Trick-or-Treat So Others Can Eat. On the field this season, Jones hit .293 with 43 hits, six doubles and 11 RBIs. She recorded 10 stolen bases and 26 runs scored. In the circle, Jones had a 1-0 mark and an ERA of 2.50 with 19 strikeouts. Jones was also honored with the 2014 team Academic Award.
Sophomore Chaley Brickey took home of the Offensive Player of the Year award for 2014. A native of Haltom City, Texas, Brickey led the squad in seven offensive categories this past season, including a .365 batting average, 12 home runs, 41 RBI and 42 walks. Her 42 walks in 2014 set a new single-season mark for base on balls after surpassing the previous record of 35 set by Tracy Bunge in 1985. Brickey also earned All-Big 12 Second-Team and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region honors.
Defensively, senior Ashley Newman and freshman Taylor McElhaney were named Players of the Year in the infield and outfield, respectively. Newman has been a permanent fixture in the middle infield the last four seasons and helped Kansas set new program record in fielding percentage with the most recent being a .979 at the conclusion of the 2014 season. She recorded 48 assists and 100 putouts, while committing only six errors in 57 starts. Offensively, Newman batted .320 with four doubles, a triple and 14 RBIs. She also led the team with 13 stolen bases.
McElhaney, a native of Talala, Oklahoma, earned Defensive Player of the Year honors after making 47 starts and 55 appearances in the outfield. McElhaney split time between right field and centerfield. She posted a .983 fielding percentage with just one error, while recording 57 putouts and two assists. At the plate, McElhaney collected two doubles, a triple and nine RBIs. She also registered a .412 on-base percentage, the third-best mark on the team, and 15 walks.
Catcher Harli Ridling earned Freshman of the Year honors after completing her rookie campaign on the diamond. Ridling started every game behind the dish hitting .264 with eight doubles, eight home runs and 35 RBIs. A native of Sentinel, Oklahoma, Ridling posted the second-best on-base percentage (.416) among the Jayhawks after recording 42 hits, 17 walks and a team-leading 25 hit by pitches. She registered a .996 fielding percentage after committing only two errors in 57 games this season.
The coaching staff also named Team Phog as the winners of the Rock Chalk Team Award. Team Phog consisted of Jones, senior Nikki Bruce and junior Chanin Naudin. KU’s roster is split into four teams that, throughout the school year, have friendly competitions like pumpkin carving, baking and the World Series. The team with the most victories at the end of the season is crowned with the Rock Chalk Team Award.
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