Captains Maggie Hull and Maddie Stein were honored for the third and first time, respectively
The first-four year players under head coach Megan Smith were honored with the Big Jay awras
Four Jayhawks recognized by the Big 12 Conference, highlighted by Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Maggie Hull
The Jayhawks break Big 12 batting average record with a .345 mark in regular season
Rosie Hull and Maggie Hull lead the Jayhawks with their third-consecutive Academic All-Big 12 First Team selections
Megan Smith enters her fourth season as head coach of the Jayhawk softball team in 2013. The eighth head coach in program history, Smith will coach her first full-round of signees as her first freshman class begin their senior season this year. Smith, who previously spent three seasons as an assistant coach at perennial power Louisiana State University, was named the Jayhawks' head coach on June 24, 2009.
In 2012, the Jayhawks recorded their second 30-win season in Smith's three years. Her squad finished the year 31-20, which included an program-record 20-game win streak. For more than a month, crossing into February and March, the Jayhawks didn't lose a game - all of which were on the road. Additionally, the Jayhawks recorded their first home victories since 2010, going 9-6 at Arrocha Ballpark. Among those wins included series victories over Oklahoma State and Iowa State, as well as splitting a two-game set with nationally-ranked Texas Tech.
For the entirety of the 2012 season, Smith's team was top-50 in the NCAA's RPI. Individually, Smith guided junior Maggie Hull to become the program's 11th Academic All-American. Hull was also named All-Big 12 First Team and NFCA All-Region First Team - KU's first in either category since 2006. Under Smith's direction, Hull hit .409 to break the school's single-season batting average record.
Freshmen Chanin Naudin and Maddie Stein joined Hull on the All-Big 12 honoree list. Both were awarded Second Team honors, marking the most All-Conference selections by a Kansas team since 2008.
Kansas received votes on one, the other or both of the national polls during five weeks of the season. At the conclusion of the 2012 regular season, KU's offense ranked in the top-five in the Big 12 in batting average (.288, 4th), hits (382, 5th) and doubles (61, 4th). In the circle, KU ranked in the league's top-five in strikeouts (294, 5th), saves (5, 2nd) and runners caught stealing (12, 3rd).
In 2011, Smith guided her team to an 11.5-game improvement from the 2010 season, which marked the 16th-best turnaround in NCAA history. Kansas softball persevered through a hefty travel schedule and challenging conference season to wrap up her second campaign with a 31-22 overall mark.
Slightly less than half of the opponents KU matched up against were ranked in the top 25. Additionally, 12 of the Jayhawks' foes went on to play in the NCAA Tournament. KU was just shy of its own postseason bid, despite a top-50 RPI and a team-record 60 home runs last season, surpassing the old club record of 54 set back in 2005.
Playing as a member of the Big 12 Conference, the league's 2011 campaign was once again one of the toughest in the country with at least seven teams ranked in the top 25 all season, while the league averaged an RPI of 23.5, second to only the Pac-10 (19.9).
The Jayhawks went undefeated in the team's first 10 games, which was the best start to any season in program history. The team later racked up another double-digit win streak, 11 games, to help the Jayhawks win five of their six pre-conference tournaments as they compiled a 26-3 record heading into Big 12 Conference play. KU's 30-win season also included two upsets over nationally-ranked opponents, No. 25 Texas Tech and No. 25 North Carolina.
The red-hot start earned the Crimson and Blue a No. 22 ranking on March 22 by the Ultimate College Softball Poll. It was the first time a KU softball team had been listed in the Top 25 since 2009. Smith's crew proved their ranking was no fluke as they continued to receive votes for six weeks in at least one major college softball poll.
Smith guided Hull and senior catcher Brittany Hile to NFCA All-Region Second Team recognition, while Hull was also honored with All-Big 12 Second Team accolades. Six of her players were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Team.
In her inaugural season at KU in 2010, Smith's young team picked up an upset of No. 23 Baylor and a come-from-behind victory at San Diego, while Mariah Montgomery earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors and Amanda Jobe was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District.
In addition to Jobe, three other Jayhawks were recognized for their efforts in the classroom as Ally Stanton, Alicia Irwin and Hile were all members of the Academic All-Big 12 Team.
Before taking over the reigns at Kansas, Smith helped lead the LSU softball team to the NCAA Tournament all three years she was on staff. She also helped the Tigers maintain their status as the third-winningest softball program in the last 12 seasons.
As a first-base coach at LSU, Smith's primary responsibilities included working with the infield and assisting with the pitching and hitting aspects of the program. Smith was instrumental in the development of shortstop Juliana Santos, who earned All-South Region First Team and SEC All-Freshman honors in 2009.
In 2008, Smith guided the Tigers' infield to its best defensive season in program history with a .974 fielding percentage. The mark ranked 13th in the NCAA.
Among the Tigers' three tournament appearances with Smith in the dugout, LSU made an appearance in the 2007 Super Regionals. That year, the Tigers also won their fifth SEC Tournament, while posting the program's third-best fielding mark with a .970 fielding percentage.
While with LSU, Smith also shared responsibilities for practice planning and recruiting, and organized camps and clinics.
Prior to LSU, Smith served as the head coach at Western Carolina in WCU's inaugural season in 2006. There, Smith orchestrated a storybook season in which the Catamounts compiled a 41-20 record, including a 16-4 conference mark that earned them the regular season championship and warranted conference coach of the year honors for Smith. The Southern Conference also awarded Smith's players with conference pitcher of the year and freshman of the year accolades, while six Catamounts were named all-conference, including five selections on the first team.
WCU's offense belted a Southern Conference record 81 home runs that season, which ranked third nationally, and Ashley Adams set a Southern Conference single-season record with 21 round-trippers. The Catamounts also ranked among the NCAA Top 50 in slugging percentage, runs, win-loss percentage and batting average.
In addition to the team's accomplishments, a WCU player was selected SoCon pitcher or player of the week nine times throughout the season. Mendy McKenzie was named pitcher of the week a record five times, while Jenny Jackson became the only player to be named pitcher and player of the week for the same week.
Smith went to WCU after spending one season as an assistant coach at North Carolina, her alma mater. She helped the Tar Heels with recruiting and fundraising and oversaw the academic progress of student-athletes, while participating in practice planning and game management.
In 2004, Smith helped steer the Tar Heels to a 46-24 record, including a second-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In addition, she directed the Carolina Softball Camps.
Before making the coaching move to UNC, Smith served as an assistant coach at Charlotte of Conference USA for the 2003 season. The 49ers recorded their most victories in five years that season as Smith worked with the infielders and pitchers, served as hitting coach and organized all recruiting efforts.
Smith began her coaching career at Young Harris College in Georgia where she compiled a 79-41 record in two seasons as head coach of the Mountain Lions from 2001-02. Without an assistant, Smith was responsible for all aspects of the NJCAA Division I program.
While at Young Harris, Smith's teams collected two regional runner-up titles and was one game away from the National Tournament in 2001. During that two-year span, nearly every school record was broken, including wins in a season (45), team home runs, individual home runs, team strikeouts, team ERA, team batting average and team fielding percentage. In 2002, her players were nationally ranked for stolen bases, strikeouts and home runs. The squad was also ranked 11th nationally for team batting average (.361). Eight of her players were named to the all-region team.
Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in exercise and sport science and recreation administration at North Carolina in 1999. As primarily a third baseman, she served as captain her senior season and was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year. Smith also owns the Tar Heels' third-most career assists record as well as the program's single-game RBI record.
An exceptional student, the Walkertown, N.C., native was named to the ACC Honor Roll on three occasions and made the Dean's List twice. In 2000, she earned her Master's of Science degree in human performance and sports studies with a concentration in sports management from the University of Tennessee.
Smith has a son, Cooper Smith Buske, with the late Paul Buske.