2006: A Year to Remember
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It was 10 years ago that Kansas softball caught fire late in the season and upset three nationally-ranked Big 12 foes to win its first Big 12 Championship and earn a NCAA Tournament berth. As the 10-year anniversary of KU’s magical season approaches, head coach Megan Smith and the Jayhawks will honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the 2006 squad on Saturday’s Alumni Day prior to first pitch against Oklahoma State.
Recently, Smith and the Jayhawks have elevated the program to new heights with countless broken records and back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances for the first time since 2005-06. Prior to the recent success, Kansas softball was also setting records and reaching new heights in 2006.
Former head coach Tracy Bunge led the Jayhawks to a 36-26 mark during the 2006 campaign, marking the most wins by Bunge since her start in 1997. Throughout the season, the Jayhawks faced 23 top-25 ranked teams, with notable wins over No. 2 Texas, No. 14 Nebraska and No. 20 Baylor.
As an unlikely candidate and finishing sixth in the Big 12 Conference regular season, KU reached the NCAA Tournament after a hot streak late in the season. The Jayhawks swept the Big 12 Championship with commendable wins over No. 19 Baylor, No. 14 Nebraska and No. 20 Oklahoma.
Following Kansas’ 4-2 victory over the No. 20 Sooners in the Big 12 Championship game, Serena Settlemier, Kassie Humphreys and Jessica Moppin were named to the Big 12 All-Championship Team, including a MVP honor for Settlemier.
The Jayhawks entered the NCAA Tournament on a seven-game winning streak. Kansas extended its streak with a regional-opening victory over BYU, 3-0. In the second game, Kansas fell to Washington, 6-0, earning its first loss in the double elimination regional. KU went on to defeat BYU for a second time, 2-1, before falling to Washington, 3-0, in the regional championship. The Jayhawks’ second loss to the Huskies ended KU’s postseason run.
Following its first Big 12 Championship in program history and a NCAA berth, the Jayhawks concluded the season in the national polls, ranking No. 24 in the final poll of the 2006 season. The 2006 squad was also only the 10th Kansas program to make it to the NCAA Tournament and the fourth under Bunge.
Although its first postseason appearance in seven years was a huge accomplishment in itself, Kansas also registered numerous impressive records to go along with its NCAA berth. Settlemier set a KU single-season record for home runs hit with 22, a record that still stands today. She also drove in a season-high 61 RBIs, which was a Kansas best until last season when current sophomore Daniella Chavez recorded 67 during her rookie season.
Settlemier not only etched her name all over Kansas’ record book during the 2006 season and throughout her career, but also racked up award after awards. She received All-America honors at the conclusion of the season, accompanied by all-region first team, Big 12 Player of the Year, All-Big 12 First Team and was named Big 12 Player of the Week twice.
Pitcher Kassie Humphreys posted a remarkable season in the circle after recording two no-hitters on the year against Stephen F. Austin and Nebraska. She struck out 262 batters in 2006, good for third-most in KU history and the most since 1994. Humphreys was named all-region second team, All-Big 12 First Team and was selected the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week twice.
With a Big 12 Championship, a NCAA Tournament berth, numerous accomplishments on the field and a multitude of accolades, the 2006 Jayhawks are a team to be remembered for years to come. The 2006 Big 12 Championship team, along with all Kanas softball alumni in attendance, will be honored prior to first pitch against Oklahoma State on Saturday, May 7.
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