Jayhawks close home stand with Rock Chalk Challenge
Beginning in August 2017, fans will be allowed to bring only one clear plastic bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches or a one-gallon, clear, resealable plastic storage bag per person inside Kansas athletics events.
Fans will also be allowed a small clutch purse not to exceed 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches.
Kansas softball (17-5) is set to host its second home tournament of the season, welcoming Northern Colorado, Murray State, Saint Louis, Western Illinois and UMKC for the Rock Chalk Challenge at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park this weekend, March 15-18.
|ROCK CHALK CHALLENGE|
|Thurs., March 15 – Sun., March 18|
|Lawrence, Kan. (Arrocha Ballpark at RCP)|
|Game 23: Northern Colorado|
|Thursday, March 15|
|Game 24: Western Illinois|
|Thursday, March 15|
|JTV / ESPN3|
|Game 25: Murray State|
|Friday, March 16|
|Game 26: Northern Colorado|
|Saturday, March 17|
|Game 27: Saint Louis|
|Saturday, March 17|
|Game 28: UMKC|
|Sunday, March 18|
Live audio of KU’s games will be available on KUAthletics.com/radio. Thursday’s game against Western Illinois at 4:30 p.m., is the second of four KU softball telecasts this season on the Jayhawk Television Network, powered by Spectrum Sports Kansas City.
Thursday & Friday: Weekday Work Perk ($5 ticket with business card); Jay Day ($2 hot dogs, $2 popcorn, $1 fudge bar)
Friday: Girl Scout cookies available to purchase.
Saturday: St. Patrick’s Day giveaway; KU softball camper reunion.
Sunday: Koozie giveaway; Sunday Funday (Pre-game Fun Zone for kids, $1 hot dogs, post-game base running, post-game autographs).
• Kansas will complete a nine-game home stand as hosts of the Rock Chalk Challenge this weekend with Northern Colorado, Western Illinois, Saint Louis, Murray State and UMKC.
• Kansas reached 17 wins through the first 20 games of the season for the third-best 20-game start since 1996.
• Through 22 games this season, the Jayhawks have 33 doubles. KU’s 1.50 doubles per game is a program high and ranks 35th in the nation.
• Kansas is 7-0 in one-run games, 4-0 in extra-inning contests, and feature a pair of walk-off victories this season.
• KU has a pair of winning streaks lasting at least five games this season.
• Kansas ranks third in the Big 12 and 31st nationally in home runs per game (0.91).
• Senior catcher Harli Ridling leads KU’s offense with a .414 batting average, four home runs and 29 hits.
• Senior infielder Jessie Roane is hitting .412 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and a Big 12-best eight doubles. Roane as a .579 average (11-for-19) with runners in scoring position.
• KU’s pitching staff leads the Big 12 in saves (four). Junior pitchers Andie Formby and Brynn Minor each have two saves.
• Kansas has the second-best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.979).
• Freshman Shelby Gayre co-leads KU in home runs (four) and has started the last 12 games at shortstop in place of the injured freshman Sydnee Ramsey (knee). Ramsey started the first 10 games before a season-ending injury.
• The 2018 Kansas softball campaign marks the 50th season overall and the ninth under head coach Megan Smith. Kansas has a 263-184 record during Smith’s tenure.
• KU’s 2018 roster is balanced with seasoned leadership and a renewed depth of talent, featuring seven seniors along with 10 newcomers.
• In the 2018 Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll, the Jayhawks were picked to finish fifth by the league’s head coaches.
• During the fall 2017 semester, Kansas reported a program-record 3.45 team grade point average (GPA); 19 Jayhawks earned individual GPAs of 3.0 or higher, including five Jayhawks with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST: Lawrence, Kan.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 69 degrees. South wind 5 to 10 mph.
Thursday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low around 45 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent.
Friday: Showers likely, mainly before 1 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39 degrees.
Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 59 degrees.
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 40 degrees.
Sunday: A 30 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 64 degrees.
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas went 1-2 during the Jayhawk Invitational last week, defeating UMKC and losing to UNI and Nebraska. The last day of the event on Sunday, March 11, was canceled due to cold temperatures. Junior Brynn Minor earned KU’s Big 12-leading fourth save of the season during 4-3 victory over UMKC. KU’s loss to UNI snapped a season-best six-game winning streak for the Jayhawks. Freshman centerfielder Brittany Jackson extended her team-best hitting streak to 11 games before the weekend finale against Nebraska.
SERIES SUMMARY: Northern Colorado
Kansas and Northern Colorado will meet for the fourth time in series history and for the second-straight time in Lawrence. The Jayhawks have shutout the Bears in the first three contests of the series and hold a cumulative series scoring advantage of 11-0. The series dates back to 1984, when Kansas defeated UNC, 5-0, in Norman, Oklahoma. The last time the teams met, Kansas won a 5-0 decision powered by a complete-game, shutout victory by then-senior pitcher Alicia Pille, who recorded 11 strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work.
SERIES SUMMARY: Western Illinois
Kansas leads the series with Western Illinois, 10-3. The Jayhawks are 4-1 against the Leathernecks in Lawrence, where the teams previously met twice during the 2016 season. The series dates back to 1990 when the teams met three times at neutral sites in Texas (College Station and Houston). KU has won four-straight games in the series entering the Rock Chalk Challenge.
SERIES SUMMARY: Murray State
Kansas and Murray State meet for the third time in program history this weekend. The only two games of the series came in 2014 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when the teams split a two-game series during the Coach B Classic.
SERIES SUMMARY: Saint Louis
Kansas is 4-1 against Saint Louis. Saturday will mark the sixth all-time meeting between the Jayhawks and Billikens and fourth since 2014. Kansas won the last matchup against SLU, 9-0, in six innings on March 20, 2016 at Rock Chalk Park.
SERIES SUMMARY: UMKC
Sunday’s game against the Roos is the second of two games between Kansas and UMKC this season. Kansas won the first meeting, 4-3, during the Jayhawk Invitational on March 8 in Lawrence. KU enters Sunday with a 35-2 series advantage against UMKC, including eight-straight victories.
MARCH: KIDNEY CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
March marks the beginning of Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. Kansas head coach Megan Smith has been deeply effected by the disease, losing her husband, Paul Buske, to kidney cancer in June 2011. Kansas has played an annual Orange Game in his memory and to draw awareness to kidney cancer. This season’s Orange Game will be March 31 against Colorado State. Orange is the official color for kidney cancer awareness.
RIDLING LEADING OFFENSE
Senior starting catcher Harli Ridling leads KU’s offense with a .414 batting average and 29 hits. Ridling has a .500 on-base percentage with 12 free bases (four walks, eight hit-by-pitch) and only four strikeouts. Half of Ridling’s hits this season have come with two outs, hitting 15-for-29 with two outs through 22 games.
Ridling has a nine-game hitting streak to her credit this season and ranks tied for third in career home runs (32) at Kansas with Liz Kocon (2008-12).
Senior Jessie Roane is hitting 12-for-22 (.545) at the plate with runners in scoring position. Overall, Roane is hitting .412 with four home runs and 23 RBIs through 22 starts. At third base, she maintains a perfect fielding percentage with 27 putouts and 46 assists.
Roane was named to the Stetson Leadoff Classic All-Tournament Team after hitting a decisive two-run home run during KU’s 2-1 victory over Stetson (Feb. 9) and opening weekend with a .333 batting average, four hits and five RBIs.
Kansas is on pace to shatter a program record for doubles in a season. Through 22 games this season, the Jayhawks have 33 doubles. KU’s 1.50 doubles per game is a program high and ranks 35th in the nation. The next-highest doubles per game average for KU is 1.46 in 2013. Senior Jessie Roane (8) and senior Harlie Ridling (7) rank first and second, respectively, in the Big 12 for total doubles this season. Roane is also climbing the charts on KU’s career doubles list, entering the weekend with the sixth-most in program history (43). Ridling isn’t far behind with 30 career two-base knocks.
On Feb. 25, Kansas totaled six doubles during 10-2 victory over Coppin State for the most doubles by a Big 12 team in a game this season and the third-most of all NCAA Division I teams in 2018.
Kansas has a pair of walk-off victories this season. Both games have been 2-1 decisions and both came in the bottom of the eighth inning. Senior outfielder Erin McGinley lifted KU past Prairie View A&M (Feb. 16) on a first-pitch RBI single with two outs and the bases loaded. Freshman shortstop Shelby Gayre had the second game-winning hit, producing an RBI single down the left field line against Elon (March 2).
Kansas is 7-0 in one-run games and 4-0 in extra-inning contests this season.
KU’s pitching staff leads the Big 12 in saves (4). Kansas reached three saves in only the first five games of the season, which eclipsed KU’s combined saves from 2016 (1) and 2017 (1). KU’s most recent save was by Brynn Minor, who pitched the final third of an inning during a 4-3 victory over UMKC (March 8).
Kansas ranks 31st in the nation in home runs per game (0.91). KU has a home run in 11 of its last 16 games, including a season-high three homers against Missouri State (Feb. 18) and a pair of round-trippers during a 8-7 road win at North Carolina (March 3). KU totals 20 home runs through the first 22 games of the season led by five Jayhawks with at least two homers — Harli Ridling (4), Shelby Gayre (4), Tarin Travieso (3), Jessie Roane (4), and Becki Monaghan (2).
JACKSON THRIVING AS CENTERFIELDER, LEADOFF
Freshman centerfielder Brittany Jackson has started all of KU’s 22 games in centerfield and as the leadoff hitter in the lineup. Jackson features a .319 batting average, a .397 on-base percentage, eight stolen bases, and four outfield assists so far this season.
Jackson’s 11-game hitting streak is a team high for the Jayhawks. She has reached base in all but one game this season.
BALDERSTON ON BASE
Freshman Addie Balderston has been an efficient pinch runner for the Jayhawks this season. In 11 pinch-running appearances this season, Balderston has four stolen bases on four attempts, along with four runs scored. The Wildwood, Missouri, native accounts for four of KU’s 15 total stolen bases.
Kansas has winnings streaks of five games and six games this season. The first winning streak went from Feb. 17 to Feb. 25, and the second lasted from Feb. 27 to March 8. The pair of winning streaks are the longest since an eight-game winning streak from the last three games of 2016 to the first five games of 2017.
The first 20 games of the 2018 season marked the third-best start for the Jayhawks since the Big 12 era began in 1996. KU’s 17 wins through the first 20 games tied with the 2011 season (17-3) and trails only the 2012 (18-2) and 2015 (19-1) seasons for the best 20-game start in the Big 12 era. The top four 20-game starts since 1996 have come under head coach Megan Smith’s watch, whose first season at KU was 2010.
Kansas is averaging 5.59 runs per game this season — the third-highest scoring average in program history. The Jayhawks are outscoring opponents, 123-73 (+50) and by an average of 5.59 to 3.32 runs per game through 22 games.
KU’s 5.59 runs per game ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 41st nationally.
Kansas has opened games with a cumulative 40-11 scoring advantage in the first and second innings. After the fifth inning, KU is out scoring opponents 35-16.
McGINLEY COMES ALIVE
In the last 12 games, senior left fielder Erin McGinley is hitting .342 with nine RBIs. During the first 10 games of the season McGinley, KU’s offensive MVP last season, had a .194 batting average. Over the three games at the Central Arkansas Invitational, the Kansas City native hit .625 with three doubles and seven RBIs. McGinley is a three-year starter in the outfield for the Jayhawks.
Junior pitcher Andie Formby leads the Big 12 in game started (12), co-leads in saves (2), ranks second in both innings pitched (70.1) and complete games (5), third in wins (7-2) and fifth in strikeouts (50) through 15 appearances this season. The California native has allowed just 17 walks in her 70.1 innings pitched this season.
After missing the 2017 season due to injury, Formby returned to the circle as KU’s opening-day starter. In 2016, Formby was KU’s wins leader with a 16-7 record and held a 113-to-34 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
TRAVIESO SHOWING VERSATILITY
During the Carolina Classic, freshman utility player Tarin Travieso (pronounced traa-VEE-es-oh) hit her first-career grand slam during a one-run KU victory over North Carolina (March 3) and earned her first two career wins in the pitching circle against North Carolina and Elon. Travieso reached base in all four games at the Carolina Classic with a .400 batting average and five RBIs. In the circle, she pitched a total of 9.1 innings with seven strikeouts and allowed only one run.
Travieso also made a shining collegiate debut in her hometown of San Antonio during the UTSA Softball Tournament (Feb. 16-18). During her first weekend of competition, she posted a .385 batting average with five hits, eight RBIs and three run scored. On Feb. 16, Travieso made her first-career start as the designated player against UTSA, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a team-high six RBIs and her first-career home run. Her six RBIs against the Roadrunners during her first-career start are the most by any Big 12 player this season.
Travieso has started every KU game as the designated player since her six-RBI performance at UTSA (Feb. 16). On the season, she is hitting .372 with 19 RBIs and three home runs.
AMAZING FIRST TWO CAREER HITS
Freshman Shelby Gayre‘s first two hits are the stuff of legend. The D’Hanis, Texas, native hit a pair of three-run home runs as the first two hits of her collegiate career — both home runs came after Gayre was inserted into the lineup as a pinch hitter. The first came against College of Charleston on Feb. 11 during a 6-1 KU victory in DeLand, Florida. The second gave KU the go-ahead 7-6 lead over Missouri State on Feb. 18.
Gayre, a catcher and infielder, has started the last 12 games at shortstop and co-leads Kansas in home runs (4) with seniors Harli Ridling and Jessie Roane.
Next week, Kansas returns to Texas for a doubleheader against Incarnate Word in San Antonio on March 21, followed by a three-game series against Texas to open Big 12 play in Austin, March 23-25.
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