A Sneak Peak At The 2008 Kansas Softball Team
Jan. 31, 2008
LAWRENCE, Kan. -
Experience Is Key With Eight Returning Starters
After posting its fourth consecutive 30-plus win season in 2007, the
"Our coaching staff is excited about the prospects of 2008," said 12th-year coach Tracy Bunge. "We feel like our overall level of talent is up and we have more depth than we had last year. This team has worked extremely hard during the fall and off-season and they are ready for the year. Their commitment to this team and to each other has the coaching staff eager to see what they will bring to the field."
"There are a lot of positives going into 2008," Bunge added. "We are not looking at the year as one of rebuilding, but we do feel that last year's experiences give us a lot to build on this year. We are starting 2-3 steps ahead of where we were last year."
"Our leaders will be the key to this team's success," Bunge said. "We don't have a ton of seniors but the ones we do have along with the captains really need to set the tone. Our seniors and captains together have the tools necessary to take us down a championship path."
"Offensively we're going to be able to score runs," Bunge said. "We have a little more speed than we've had the last couple of years. We will have a more balanced attack this year. More pop has been added along with better overall team speed. We will push this team to become a much more aggressive offensive team."
Right behind Crisosto was Amanda Jobe who hit .295 from the batter's box in her inaugural season with the Jayhawks and led the squad in conference play hitting .279. The
Elle Pottorf is another important piece to KU's offense. The
Three Up, Three Down
The infield will, for the most part, look the same as it did a year ago. In one corner, junior Val Chapple will entrench herself at third base for the third straight year where she has started every game but one in the last two years. Chapple, a 2007 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, was a consistent defender tallying a team-high 123 assists and recording a .957 fielding percentage. The in-state product from
Opposite Chapple, fans will find Jobe at first. Jobe split time with graduated senior Nicole Washburn last year and also played in the
Senior Addy Lucero has seen some playing time at first during preseason practices and will be a key pinch hitter off the bench as well. Lucero also gives the team depth at third.
Second base is a true competition between sophomore Sara Ramirez and newcomer Kolby Fesmire. The two have excellent speed and good fielding abilities. Ramirez started all 58 games at second last year and made a big impact on offense with six home runs, the third-most by a freshman in school history.
Fesmire, one of two newcomers out of
Rounding out the KU infield is Crisosto at short. The
"Now that Stevie has had a full season at short stop, I expect her to be as good as anyone at that position in the Big 12," said Bunge. Watching Stevie this fall, she looked like the player that we need her to be. Offensively, she helps us in many different ways and I only see her getting better."
The infield certainly looks promising but the potential doesn't stop there. Experience and depth exists in the outfield as well.
Right and left field is still up for grabs but center field belongs to returning junior, Dougie McCaulley. The Victorville,
According to Bunge, "
A native of
Farrow, a transfer from
"We have a very talented defensive team," Bunge said. "We've solidified some things in the outfield and have added more depth to the infield."
The area where the Jayhawks are the least experienced is in the circle and that is the biggest question for this year's team.
Kassie Humphreys was a four-year starter for the Jayhawks and a two-time All-Big 12 performer who graduated last year after leaving her name littered all over the KU pitching record books.
The longest tenured hurler is Valerie George who is in her third season with the Jayhawks. Last year, George boasted a team-best 2.11 ERA in 116.1 innings and amassed a 9-4 record along with three saves.
Sarah Vertelka has also seen time from inside the circle throwing 72.2 innings in 2007. The 5-foot-9 right hander took full advantage of the offseason and has made significant strides in her game.
"I'm excited about the direction that our three young arms are headed," Bunge added. "We can be a very complete staff. They each have different strengths and together they have the ability to surprise a lot of people."
Sophomore Caitlin Kenney is also a member of the
Like the rest of the KU lineup, the catcher position also has several options. Pottorf is the Jayhawks' returning starter and brings a great deal of experience to the team. She proved to be a consistent player behind the plate last season recording a .992 fielding percentage.
Brittany Hile comes to
Senior Sarah Sidebottom is also a very important element to the program. She practices behind the plate along with Pottorf and Hile and does a great job working with the pitching staff.
"The pitching staff feels comfortable with either one of our catchers behind the plate," said Bunge. "We have a great one-two punch with these two and we will take advantage of what both of them will bring."
Kansas softball will open its 2008 season Friday, Feb. 8 in Orlando, Fla. during the Central Florida Invitational. KU will face Central Arkansas at 8:30 a.m. CST Friday morning before going up against North Carolina State at 12:30 p.m. CST.