Kansas begins 2017 season in Florida

Stetson Lead-Off


Date Feb. 10-12, 2017
Location DeLand, Florida
Notes Game Notes

Audio Audio Stream
Stats Live Stats 

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas softball opens the 2017 campaign at the Lead-Off Classic, hosted by Stetson, Feb. 10-12 in DeLand, Florida. The Jayhawks start the season against Akron Friday morning and face off with Savannah State and Stetson in the five-game tournament.

Listen to every pitch, home and away, all season long as part of the Jayhawk Radio Network, in partnership with KJHK, the University of Kansas’ student radio station, KLWN and KWOD. All of KU’s contests will be carried live, for free, at KUAthletics.com/radio or by clicking the link on the online schedule. Fans can also get in-game updates via twitter by following @KUsoftball.


  • Kansas finished the 2016 season with a 31-20 record, marking the sixth year in row that the Jayhawks have reached the 30-win plateau under head coach Megan Smith. In 2015, Smith guided Kansas to a 40-win season.The Jayhawks’ 40-15 record marked the most wins in as season under Smith and since the 1997 campaign.
  • In 2016, Kansas set a new attendance record on April 9 at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. The crowd of 1,240 marked the largest attendance record and the third of four sellouts since the ballpark opened in 2015. 
  • The Jayhawks have scored first in 28 of their 48 games in 2016 and owned a 22-6 record when putting a run on the scoreboard before their opponent.
  • KU returns 51.6 percent of its run product from a season ago as nine Jayhawks are back who accounted for 129 of KU’s 250 RBIs from 2016. Junior Harli Ridling recorded 43 RBIs last season, the most of those returning in 2017.
  • Kansas saw home runs from 10 different Jayhawks last season and six of those Jayhawks return in 2017. 

Kansas softball starts the 48th season in program history when the Jayhawks travel to DeLand, Florida for a five-game tournament to open the season. KU will begin the 2017 campaign with 21-straight road games before hosting its first tournament in March at Rock Chalk Park.

In 2017, the Jayhawks will play 24 games in front of a home crowd. Kansas will face nine opponents on the diamond which appeared in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Entering her eighth season at the helm of Kansas softball, head coach Megan Smith garners a roster with 13 returning letterwinners, including six starters. Along with 13 veterans, Smith welcomes nine newcomers featuring seven freshmen and two transfers. Among those returning to the diamond in the Crimson and Blue is 2016 Big 12 All-Freshman Team selection Alexis Reid. The sophomore hurler recorded a 4-1 mark in the circle, including an upset victory over nationally-ranked Oklahoma on the road. 

From the moment a student-athlete steps on campus, Kansas head softball coach Megan Smith and her staff begin the process of instilling the Jayhawk Way into their team. The philosophy guides the Jayhawks in competing on the diamond, in the classroom and being a part of the community. There are several core values that the Jayhawks learn to live by while playing at Kansas: family, academics, character and hard work.

Akron is coming off of a 30-25-1 campaign in 2016 and ended the season fourth in the MAC East division with an 11-10-1mark. Entering the 2017 season, the MAC coaches selected the Zips to place fourth in the MAC East division. Head coach Julie Jones begins her 11th season at the helm of Akron softball and fields a roster with 16 returning letterwinners and four newcomers. Among the returners is 2016 MAC All-Second Team selection Alyssa Nicholas. A senior catcher, Nicholas started all 56 games in 2016 and batted .293 with 11 doubles, a triple, a home run and 15 RBIs. The Zips batted .274 last season with 387 hits, including 101 for extra bases. In the circle, Akron’s pitching staff recorded a 2.46 ERA with 284 strikeouts.  

The opening day matchup between Kansas and Akron is just the second meeting in program history and first since 1988. With a 5-3 victory in the first game against the Zips, Kansas owns a 1-0 mark in the all-time series against Akron.   

In 2016, Savannah State went 26-23 with a 13-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference mark, good for first place in the Southern Division. The Lady Tigers have won their division each of the last two years. Entering 2017, SSU was selected to finish its division in third place despite having five players named to the MEAC Preseason All-Conference teams, including Cortni Jones who was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Jones batted .380 as a freshman with nine doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBIs. Senior catcher Tia Bolden, junior shortstop Brianna Harris, seniors Alexis Singleton and Chasney Jenkins all earned preseason accolades from the MEAC. In the circle, the Lady Tigers tossed a 3.85 ERA with 198 strikeouts and 116 walks. Savannah State batted .322 last season with 416 hits, including 107 for extra bases. 

Kansas and Savannah State meet for the first time in program history this weekend at the Lead-Off Classic.

After compiling a 30-24 record and 8-9 mark in Atlantic Sun Conference play, Stetson concluded 2016 in third place in the regular season and fourth at the league tournament. Frank Griffin is entering his 20th season as the head coach of the Hatters and has guided Stetson to 30-win seasons in each of the last four years. The Hatters were picked by the conference coaches to finish the league in fifth place. Stetson returns 13 letterwinners from last year’s squad, while welcoming five freshmen to its roster. Among the 13 returners is 2017 Atlantic Sun Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Jessie TenBroeck and Preseason All-Conference selection Kelsey Waters. A senior second baseman, TenBroeck led the team with a .343 batting average as a junior and recorded a team-best 59 hits. A senior outfielder, Waters batted .308 with 44 hits, including 11 for extra bases, and 16 RBIs. In the circle, sophomore pitcher Tori Perkins returns after a 12-7 mark in 2016 and a team-low 2.57 ERA. The Hatters hit .271 last season with 49 doubles, nine triples, 14 home runs and 169 RBIs. Stetson’s pitching staff tossed a 3.08 ERA with 147 strikeouts.  

Prior to this weekend, Kansas has faced Stetson three times and owns a 3-0 mark in the all-time series against the Hatters. The series began in 2011 with an 11-8 extra-inning victory. KU is 3-0 when facing the Hatters on their home field in DeLand, Florida.

Kansas continues its 21-game road streak at the Osprey Invitational, Feb. 17-19, hosted by North Florida. The Jayhawks will play five games during the tournament against UNF, Georgia State, South Carolina State, Eastern Illinois and South Dakota State. Every game of the weekend will be available on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/radio. 

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