Softball ready for Texas two-step in San Antonio and Austin

Kansas softball begins its spring break road swing in Texas on Wednesday against Incarnate Word in San Antonio, followed by a Big 12-opening series at Texas, March 23-25.

 Games 29-30: at Incarnate Word (DH)
  San Antonio, Texas (Cardinals Field)
  Wednesday, March 21
  2 p.m.
  Live Stats
 Game 31-33: at Texas
  Austin, Texas (McCombs Field)
  March 23-25
  Longhorn Network
  Live Stats

Softball ready for Texas two-step in San Antonio and Austin

Kansas softball begins its spring break road swing in Texas on Wednesday against Incarnate Word in San Antonio, followed by a Big 12-opening series at Texas, March 23-25.

San Antonio, Texas
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 78. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Austin, Texas
Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 84 degrees. South wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 84 degrees.
Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 89 degrees.

Kansas went 5-1 while hosting the Rock Chalk Challenge last week to conclude a nine-game home stand at Rock Chalk Park. The Jayhawks finished atop the standings of their final pre-conference tournament, followed by Northern Colorado (4-2), Saint Louis (3-2), UMKC (2-3), Western Illinois (1-4) and Murray State (1-4). Junior pitcher Andie Formby closed the week out with a pair of complete-game shutouts against Saint Louis and UMKC. Sophomore second baseman Sam Dellinger led the Jayhawks offensively during week six of the season with a .636 batting average and five RBIs. Freshman shortstop Shelby Gayre hit her team-high fifth home run of the season. KU’s pitching staff posted a 1.40 ERA — eight earned runs allowed in six games during week six of the season.

SERIES SUMMARY: Incarnate Word
Kansas and Incarnate Word meet for the first time in program history on Wednesday. The doubleheader will be the fourth and fifth game against a Southland Conference team this season. The Cardinals were picked to finish 11th in the 12-team league. Under first-year head coach Joe DiPietro, the Cardinals boast a 5-14 overall record and 2-4 conference record this season.

Kansas will look to snap a four-game losing streak against the Longhorns this weekend as Big 12 play commences in Austin. Texas has won eight of the last nine contests. Since the Big 12 expanded conference play to three-game series, Texas has won all six against Kansas. 

Friday’s game at Texas is the first of KU’s 18-game Big 12 Conference schedule. The Big 12 schedule features a three-game series involving all Big 12 teams. The Jayhawks have road series at Texas (March 23-25), at Oklahoma (April 13-15) and at Baylor (April 20-22). KU’s home Big 12 series include Oklahoma State (April 6-8), Texas Tech (April 27-29) and Iowa State (May 4-6).

This will mark the fifth time Kansas has played Texas to open Big 12 play. UT won the previous four Big 12-opening games against KU.

Kansas is seeking a Big 12-opening victory for the first time since 2014, when it began league play by sweeping Oklahoma State.

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.

Kansas enters this week’s five-game road swing with a 4-0 record in true road games this season. The Jayhawks have victories at North Carolina (March 3), Central Arkansas (Feb. 25), UTSA (Feb. 16) and Stetson (Feb. 9). With one road win this week, KU will match last season’s total of road victories from last season (5-9).

Kansas ranks 11th in the nation in fielding percentage (.980). The Jayhawks have just 16 errors through the first 28 games of the season. KU’s season-long eight-game errorless streak lasted from Feb. 17 to Feb. 27. Kansas has just one error in its last five games entering the seventh week of the regular season.

In the first NCAA Ratings Percentage Index released on Monday, Kansas debuted at No. 48. The Jayhawks boast the fourth-highest RPI in the Big 12 after finishing the 2017 season No. 133 in the RPI.

Kansas modified its lineup during the last week’s Rock Chalk Challenge. Junior outfielder Emily Bermel made her first start of the season in right field on Feb. 15 against Northern Colorado and has started every game since. KU’s corner infield starters changed for the first time this season in the second game against Northern Colorado on Feb. 17 as freshman Tarin Travieso moved from the designated player to first base, and sophomore Madison Sykes made her first start of the season at third base. After starting the first 25 games at third base, senior Jessie Roane has started the last three game as the designated player.

This week’s games in San Antonio and Austin mark the second of three trips to the Lone Star state this season. Seven Jayhawks are from the state of Texas, including San Antonio native Tarin Travieso, a freshman left-handed pitcher. Other Jayhawk Texans include freshman outfielder Brittany Jackson (Mansfield), freshman catcher Shelby Gayre (D’Hanis), senior infielder Amanda Organ (Houston), senior outfielder Annie Mehringer (Henderson), senior pitcher Sarah Miller (Fort Worth) and redshirt freshman infielder Courtney Taylor (Houston).

KU junior utility Brynn Minor and Texas junior outfielder Ki’audra Hayter played on the same team at Butler County Community College in 2017, guiding the Grizzlies to the NJCAA national title. Minor was named the NJCAA Player of the Year and Hayter was an NJCAA All-American.

Senior starting catcher Harli Ridling is hitting .348 with 29 hits, including four home runs. Ridling ranks tied for third in career home runs (32) at Kansas with Liz Kocon (2008-12).

The four-year starter has a .431 on-base percentage with 13 free bases (five walks and eight hit-by-pitch) and only seven strikeouts. More than half of Ridling’s hits this season have come with two outs, hitting 16-for-33 with two outs through 28 games. Ridling has a nine-game hitting streak to her credit this season.

Senior Jessie Roane is hitting 15-for-27 (.556) at the plate with runners in scoring position. Overall, Roane leads KU with a .412 batting average, four home runs and 25 RBIs through 28 starts.

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 28 games this season, the Jayhawks have 46 doubles. KU’s 1.64 doubles per game is a program high and ranks 22nd in the nation. The next-highest doubles per game average for KU is 1.46 in 2013. Three Jayhawks rank top-six in the Big 12 in total two-base knocks led by senior Jessie Roane (12), sophomore Sam Dellinger (nine) senior Harli Ridling (eight).

Roane is also climbing the charts on KU’s career doubles list, entering the weekend with the sixth-most in program history (47). Ridling isn’t far behind with 31 career doubles.

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.

Freshman centerfielder Brittany Jackson has started all of KU’s 28 games in centerfield and as the leadoff hitter in the lineup. Jackson boats a .330 batting average, a .375 on-base percentage, nine stolen bases, and four outfield assists so far this season.

Jackson’s 11-game hitting streak earlier this season is a team high for the Jayhawks.

Kansas is 7-0 in one-run games and 4-0 in extra-inning contests this season.

?Kansas has three of walk-off victories this season. One came during a run-rule victory and two have been extra-inning decisions. Freshman shortstop Shelby Gayre has KU’s last two walk-off hits. 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).

KU’s pitching staff leads the Big 12 in saves (four). Kansas reached three saves in the first five games of the season, which eclipsed KU’s combined total of saves from the previous two seasons — 2016 (one) and 2017 (one). 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 41st in the nation in home runs per game (0.86). KU totals 24 home runs through the first 28 games of the season led by four Jayhawks with at least four homers — Shelby Gayre (five), Harli Ridling (four), Tarin Travieso (four) and Jessie Roane (four).

The Jayhawks have a season-high three homers against Missouri State (Feb. 18) and a pair of round-trippers during an 8-7 road win at North Carolina (March 3).

Sophomore Lily Valeo is KU’s most-frequently used pinch runner with 18 appearances on the base paths and nine runs scored.

Freshman Addie Balderston has made 15 pinch-running appearances with four stolen bases on four attempts, along with six runs scored.

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 5.36 runs per game this season — the third-highest scoring average in program history. The Jayhawks are outscoring opponents, 150-86 (+64) and by an average of 5.36 to 3.07 runs per game through 28 games.

KU’s 5.36 runs per game ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 49th nationally.

In the last 18 games, senior left fielder Erin McGinley is hitting .345 with 12 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 (18) and complete games (eight), while co-leading in saves (two), ranking second in innings pitched (91.1), third in wins (10-2) and fifth in strikeouts (67). The California native has allowed just 20 walks in her 91.1 innings pitched.

Formby is coming off of two-straight complete-game shutouts against Saint Louis (March 17) and UMKC (March 18). She has not allowed an earned run in her last four appearances in the circle.

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.

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 game since her six-RBI performance at UTSA (Feb. 16). On the season, she is hitting .372 with 19 RBIs and three home runs.

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.

After a five-game swing in Texas, the Jayhawks will return home to face SIU-Edwardsville on March 28 and host a three-game series against Colorado State, March 30-31, at Arrocha Ballpark at Rock Chalk Park. Friday, March 30, will be Public Safety Day and Saturday, March 31, will be the annual Orange Game benefiting kidney cancer awareness.




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