Stein Earns KU Softball‘s Top Honor, Team Awards Announced
LAWRENCE, Kan. – During the 2015 season, Kansas softball saw another successful campaign on the diamond full of record-breaking performances, a brand-new facility and its second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Megan Smith and her staff concluded the season with the announcement of the 2015 team awards, highlighted by senior first baseman Maddie Stein being named the recipient of the Big Jay Award.
After opening the season with a 12-1 record, the Jayhawks finished their competitive non-conference slate with a 32-5 mark and concluded the season with a 40-15 record overall (.727 winning percentage), which marked the best winning percentage by a KU squad since 1992 when Kansas ended with a 45-10 record (.818 winning percentage). The 2015 season was filled with many memories and moments that have been etched all over the record books.
One of those moments was when Stein, a product of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, claimed the career RBI record, finishing with 150 runs batted in surpassing the previous mark of 140. This achievement highlighted Stein’s four-year career with the Jayhawks, which she capped off by being named the 2015 Big Jay Award winner, the top honor from the KU coaching staff.
The Big Jay Award 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. Stein excelled at first base during her senior campaign batting .339 with 58 hits, including 23 for extra bases, and 41 RBIs. Academically, she earned her third Academic All-Big 12 honor and was named the 2015 Big 12 Softball Scholar Athlete of the Year. Active with Kansas’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and in the Lawrence community, Stein also represented Kansas and the Big 12 at the 2015 NCAA Convention, where she had a vote on the autonomy legislative proposals that were presented during the autonomy voting session at the convention.
Rookie Daniella Chavez burst onto the scene and left no doubt that she was one of the best freshmen in the country. Chavez was named a finalist for National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Freshman of the Year and was awarded Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors. On top of those accolades, she earned Freshman of the Year honors from Smith and her staff. Chavez boasted a .344 batting average with 56 hits, the third-highest mark on the team. She led the Jayhawks in home runs with 16 and RBIs with 67, both new records for the Jayhawks. Her 16 home runs is the most by a KU freshman, while her 67 runs batted in shattered the single-season mark.
Senior hurler Alicia Pille was named the Jayhawks’ Pitcher of the Year. Pille made her mark on KU’s record book after starting the season with an 18-0 mark in the circle and became the first Jayhawk pitcher to reach the 20-win plateau since 2001. She finished the year with over half of KU’s victories, compiling a 25-8 record. In 42 appearances, she posted 200 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. Pille ended her career with 673 K’s, which is fourth-most all-time in Kansas history. For her efforts in the circle, she earned NFCA All-Region honors.
For the second year in a row, junior shortstop Chaley Brickey earned top offensive honors from her coaches after being named the Offensive Player of the Year. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Brickey earned her third All-Big 12 honor and first All-Big 12 First Team accolade. This past season, she led the squad with a .386 batting average, hits (68), runs scored (52) and slugging percentage (.688), while finishing second on the team in home runs (13), RBIs (56), walks (38) and on-base percentage (.488).Crusade dressed as the cast of “Sandlot” for the
On the defensive side, sophomore Taylor McElhaney was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, McElhaney appeared in every game in the outfield and was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year amongst the outfielders, while in 2015 McElhaney moved to second base and earned the award for the second-straight year. She started all 55 games this past season and was limited to just three errors for a fielding percentage of .984. McElhaney recorded 115 putouts and 73 assists. Offensively, she hit .266 with five extra-base hits and 18 RBIs.
The Jayhawk Tough Award went to sophomore pitcher Sophia Templin. The De Soto, Kansas native finished her second season in the Crimson and Blue with the best ERA on the pitching staff after registering a 2.95 ERA. Templin entered the circle in some critical moments for the Jayhawks and delivered eight scoreless and five hitless outings. She recorded 33 strikeouts, including a career-best eight K’s against Texas (3/27). In 19 appearances, she posted a 5-2 record and one save.
The coaching staff also named Team Crusade as the winner of the Rock Chalk Team Award. Crusade consisted of Stein, Brickey, Templin, Jessie Roane and Amanda Organ. 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.
Another honor that Smith and her staff awarded was to the support staff member of the year. There are many individuals that support the Jayhawks on and off the diamond throughout the season, but during the 2015 campaign one stood out among all others. Smith and her staff selected Frank Masterson, Director of Rock Chalk Park, as the Support Staff Member of the Year. In charge of all operations aspects of Kansas’ brand-new facility, Masterson worked countless hours making sure that Arrocha Ballpark was in pristine condition come game time. With the help of Masterson and his staff, Rock Chalk Park has become one of the top facilities for softball, soccer and track and field in the country.
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