Kansas Returns Home to Host Jayhawk Invitational
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a 19-game road swing to start the 2016 season, Kansas returns to the comfort of Rock Chalk Park to host the Jayhawk Invitational March 11-13. KU will host Missouri State, Western Illinois, Northern Iowa and Omaha during the three-day tournament. All four games will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network and the final game of the weekend will air on the Jayhawk Television Network.
Around the Diamond
All fans in attendance to Kansas softball’s opening-weekend tournament will receive magnet schedule giveaways upon entrance to the games. During KU’s game on Friday, fans can purchase hot dogs for $1 and will receive free popcorn with the purchase of a drink on Sunday during the Jayhawks contest.
LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- Kansas concluded its 19-game road swing to start the 2016 season with a 4-0 mark at the Coach B Classic hosted by Southern Illinois.
- KU has launched a conference-leading 24 home runs over the outfield fence this season, which have plated 46 of Kansas’ 92 runs scored in 2016. Nine different Jayhawks have recorded a long ball.
- Senior infielder Chaley Brickey walked her way into the history books after recording four base on balls during the second weekend of the season. The Haltom City, Texas native claimed Kansas’ all-time walk record, surpassing Tracy Bunge’s record 108 walks from 1983-86. Brickey currently has 115 career walks.
- The Jayhawk offense has come alive late in games this season, scoring 44 of 92 runs in the final three innings. Kansas has scored 20 runs in the fifth frame, the second-most runs scored than in any other inning this year.
- In the last three seasons, Kansas has recorded three top-10 wins including a victory over then-No. 1 Oklahoma, 2-0, in 2013. During the 2015 season, KU continued its tradition of upsetting OU with a 4-2 win over the fifth-ranked Sooners on April 24.
- The final victory of last weekend gave Kansas head coach Megan Smith her 200th win at the helm of the Jayhawk program. The Jayhawks have recorded 30 wins in each of the last five seasons under head coach Megan Smith. Kansas’ 40 wins last season were the most victories claimed by KU in the Smith era, and the most wins by a Jayhawk team since 1997.
About the Jayhawks
For the first time this season, Kansas swept a non-conference tournament after going 4-0 at the Coach B Classic hosted by Southern Illinois last weekend. The Jayhawks blasted four more long balls, bringing their season total to 24, the most home runs by a team in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas has driven in 92 runs in 2016 with 46 of those runs crossing home plate because of a home run. Four Jayhawks are hitting above .300, contributing to KU’s .266 average at the plate, as sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez leads the way with a .400 batting average.
In four starts last weekend, junior infielder Chaley Brickey and Chavez led KU’s offense hitting .571 and .417 at the plate, respectively. Brickey recorded four doubles and a home run in 14 at-bats for a 1.071 slugging percentage and .647 on-base percentage, while Chavez launched a home run and a team-best six RBIs. Brickey recorded multi-hit efforts in three of Kansas’ four games last weekend, including a trio of doubles against Eastern Illinois in the first game of the Coach B Classic.
Sophomore Andie Formby posted a 0.91 ERA with a team-high 13 strikeouts in 15 and one-third innings of work. In three appearances, Formby allowed two earned runs, two walks and nine hits to compile a 2-0 record in the circle. Senior Monique Wesley improved to 2-0 on the season after three appearances last weekend. Wesley struck out 11 in 12 and two-thirds innings pitched, while allowing two walks and six earned runs. In the final game of the weekend, Wesley struck out seven batters in five innings of work, tying her career-high mark set against Bradley at the beginning of last season. KU’s pitching staff has a combined 3.57 ERA while striking out 91 batters and allowing 49 walks.
Scouting the Lady Bears
Missouri State is just over .500 on the season with a 9-8 record after four weeks of play. MSU was pegged to finish its conference slate in second place behind Wichita State. The Lady Bears returns seven starters and 13 letterwinners from the 2015 team that finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference and reached the MVC Tournament finals. Madison Jones is one of two Lady Bears batting above .400 on the year. She leads the squad with 19 hits, while Kaitlin Beason has registered a team-best three home runs and 16 RBIs. Missouri State is hitting .267 with 36 extra-base hits and 52 walks. The Lady Bears’ pitching staff has tossed a 2.73 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 45 walks. Beason has a 4-1 mark with a team-low 2.00 ERA in seven appearances.
The Series Rundown
The Jayhawks have a commanding, 64-17, lead in the all-time series against Missouri State, a series that began in 1978 in Lawrence, despite having lost the last two meetings. KU has won 12 of the last 15 contests between the two programs. Kansas has a 31-8 mark when facing the Lady Bears at home.
Scouting the Fighting Leathernecks
Western Illinois is off to a 6-11 start to the 2016 campaign, so far all 17 of the Leathernecks’ games have been played on the road. The Leathernecks were picked to finish sixth in the 2016 preseason coaches’ poll. The Purple and Gold return five starters from a year ago, including senior Karissa Kouchis who leads the team with a .404 batting average and 23 hits. Senior Tierney Bottino also returns in 2016 and has recorded a team-high 10 RBIs. Collectively, the Leathernecks are batting .256 with 110 hits, 27 for extra bases, and 38 walks. In the circle, Western Illinois has posted a 6.23 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 52 walks. Freshman Emily Ira leads the pitching staff with 53 strikeouts while tossing a 5.59 ERA. She has thrown six complete games, including a shutout, for a 3-6 mark on the year.
The Series Rundown
Kansas and Western Illinois meet for the 12th time in program history, a series that began in 1990 with a 4-0 victory for the Jayhawks. KU leads the all-time series with the Fighting Leathernecks, 8-3. The Jayhawks have won three of the last four contests between the two schools, including a 3-0 win for Kansas in the last meeting during the 2010 season.
Scouting the Panthers
Northern Iowa is 15-6 on the season heading into the fifth weekend of 2016, including an 11-4 mark away from home. The Panthers were picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll. UNI returns six starters from a team that finished the 2015 season at 22-28 while posting a 15-10 conference record. Northern Iowa returns MVC Preseason All-Conference honoree Chelsea Ross, who set a career-high in strikeouts (193) last season. This season, Ross is 6-3 in the circle with a 2.16 ERA and 75 strikeouts. The Panthers’ pitching staff has a 2.52 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 50 walks. Offensively, UNI is batting .303 with 161 hits, including 47 for extra bases. Ross leads the roster with 21 RBIs while hitting .400. She also leads the team in hits (24) and home runs (3).
The Series Rundown
The Jayhawks have a 4-3 edge over Northern Iowa in the overall series, which started with 5-0 victory for Kansas in 1978. KU has lost the last two meetings between the programs in 2009 while the last win for the Jayhawks over the Panthers was in 2006.
Scouting the Mavericks
Omaha, who was selected to finish fourth in the 2016 Summit League Preseason Softball Coaches’ Poll, owns an 8-13 mark after the first month of the season. The Mavericks concluded the 2015 season with a 22-28 overall record and a 6-10 mark in the Summit League. UNO finished sixth in the league regular season standings last season. Omaha welcomes back two all-league members, including 2015 Summit League Freshman of the Year Megan May and first-team performer Lizzie Noble. In all, the Mavs return eight position starters. Sydney Hames leads the offense with a .373 batting average and five home runs along with 18 RBIs. Nicole Warren has tallied a team-best seven long balls and 25 RBIs. Collectively, the Mavericks are hitting .261 with 56 extra-base hits and 50 walks. In the circle, Omaha posted a 5.90 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 88 walks. Abbie Clanton is 3-4 on the season with a team-low 5.46 ERA.
The Series Rundown
For just the second time in program history Kansas and Omaha square off on the diamond. Kansas won the first meeting, 5-4, last season at Rock Chalk Park.
And the Winner is…
Kansas infielder Daniella Chavez became the first Jayhawk to earn Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honors this season after garnering the award for the week of Feb. 15. During the week of March 8, Kansas swept the Big 12 Weekly honors after senior infielder Chaley Brickey and sophomore pitcher Andie Formby earned accolades.
Home Run Fun
The Jayhawks blasted a conference-leading 24 home runs in the first 19 games of the 2016 campaign. Six of those 24 long balls came at the end of sophomore infielder Daniella Chavez’s bat. A year ago, Chavez led the squad with 16 home runs as a rookie. In all, nine different Jayhawks have sent the ball over the outfield fence so far this season. Kansas launched a total of 52 balls over the outfield wall in 2015, which was the third-most home runs among teams in the Big 12 Conference. Seven Jayhawks recorded at least one home run last year. KU also posted 10 grand slams in 2015 by six different members of the roster.
The Jayhawks hit the road for a midweek game at Creighton on Wednesday, March 16 at 4 p.m. Following the first midweek matchup of 2016, Kansas will host the Rock Chalk Challenge March 18-20 at Rock Chalk Park.
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