2013 Season Outlook: Infielders
Jan. 30, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. - While the Jayhawks prepare for their season opener on Feb. 8, KUAthletics.com continues to preview the Kansas softball team, focusing on the dynamic crew of infielders.
In her fourth year as head coach, Megan Smith calls this set of players one of the most talented infields she has worked with - and for good reason. The Jayhawks are bringing an unprecedented amount of depth to their infield in 2013, starting with the shortstop position and the addition of Haltom City, Texas native, Chaley Brickey.
Ranked No. 22 on the ESPN Softball 2012 Recruiting Class, Brickey graduated from Haltom High School a year early, but didn't show any signs of youth as she hit .643 with 40 RBIs, while striking out just once in her final campaign with the Buffalos. In her first season, Brickey is slated to start at shortstop for the Jayhawks - a position previously filled by three-year starter and team captain, senior Mariah Montgomery.
Proving the added-depth theory, Montgomery worked out with the right side of the infield during the fall. Montgomery ranked in the top-10 in the Big 12 with 45 RBIs in 2012 and led the team with eight home runs, numbers that Smith has no plans for removing from the lineup. Still able to play shortstop when needed, Montgomery will likely take her talents to first base or second base where she will create more depth. Sophomore Maddie Stein, an All-Big 12 Second Team selection in 2012, made the most of her starts at first base last season, and has potential to reprise that role as well as catch in 2013.
Like Brickey, freshman Alex Hugo also has all the makings of becoming an immediate impact player. Smith refers to the Olathe, Kan., native as the team's best all-around athlete, which makes her a candidate not just for the infield, but at catcher and in the outfield, too. In her senior year at Olathe South, Hugo batted .500 with 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 39 RBIs.
Sophomore Chanin Naudin and junior Ashley Newman will provide familiar consistency as they return at third and second base, respectively. Naudin earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors after finding her groove in Big 12 play. Facing conference-only foes, Naudin lead the team with 15 RBIs and tied Stein for the lead with three home runs. A force on the base paths, Newman was a perfect 21-for-21 on stolen bases and committed only two errors all season at second base in 2012.
Also in the mix are freshmen Kylee Kennedy (Topeka, Kan.) and Reilly Lamb (Bloomington, Ill.). Kennedy comes in as an All-State First Team honoree from Shawnee Heights, while Lamb hit .471 and led her team at Normal Community High School with 27 RBIs in her senior season.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On the talent Chaley Brickey brings to the team:
On Mariah Montgomery being a selfless captain and team player:
On the potential of Alex Hugo: