Head coach Megan Smith and the 2013 team captains answered questions about the upcoming season
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Feb. 1, 2013
2013 Kansas Softball Media Day Notes
LAWRENCE, Kan. - With exactly one week remaining until the 2013 season opener, Kansas softball head coach Megan Smith and the team captains held its annual media day Friday afternoon in the team's locker room.
MEDIA DAY QUICK HITS
• The 2013 seniors represent the first to play their entire careers under head coach Megan Smith. Entering her fourth season, Smith is 83-77 at Kansas and 209-138 as she starts her seventh-overall season as a head coach.
• The Jayhawks return 80 percent of their run production and 73 percent of their home run output from a lineup that hit .288 as a unit in 2012, the second-best average in school history.
• Seven players on the 2013 roster started 30 or more games a year ago, including three players who started all 51 games (Maggie Hull, Mariah Montgomery, Ashley Newman). Entering their senior seasons, Hull and Montgomery have started all 160 games in their careers, while Newman has started 104-consecutive games heading into her junior season.
• As a unit, the 2013 team captains (senior Maggie Hull, senior Mariah Montgomery, redshirt junior Alex Jones, sophomore Maddie Stein) accumulated a .360 batting average (148-for-411), 88 runs scored and 99 of the team's 203 RBIs, without the benefit of Jones who missed last season with an injury.
• All three of KU's 2012 All-Big 12 honorees return to reprise their roles: Maggie Hull, First Team; Chanin Naudin and Maddie Stein, Second Team. The trio marked the most named to the all-conference team for KU since 2008.
• Freshmen Chaley Brickey (Haltom City, Texas) and Kelsey Kessler (Blue Springs, Mo.) each earned recognition from ESPN. Brickey was ranked No. 22 in the ESPN Recruiting Class of 2012, while Kessler was an ESPN Rise National Female Player of the Week and was named to the ESPN Rise's "Nine to Watch" list.
• A local rookie, Alex Hugo of Olathe, Kan., comes in as the reigning Sunflower League Player of the Year.
• The Jayhawks are coming off of their second-straight 30-win season after posting a 31-20 mark in 2012. KU spent the duration of the season in the RPI's top-50 and notched victories against nationally-ranked programs Texas Tech and Baylor. Under Smith's direction, the Jayhawks made school history with its unprecedented 20-game win streak last spring.
Head Coach Megan Smith
On if the team is excited for the season to start:
“Absolutely, we’re ready. We’re at the point now where practice is good and it’s good to go out there and maintain and to get some reps in, but we’re ready to go. We’ve gone over everything, the girls are prepared and we’re just ready to see them against someone other than ourselves.”
On the team practicing outside:
“We’ve been lucky. We have been able to get out quite a bit. We’re going to get out another two days this weekend, which will be nice. When we’re inside, we still get a lot of work done. We’re able to focus on our hitting and our pitching, which is extremely important to do, so it’s nice to get a little extra time with that. We’ve been lucky with the weather and have been able to get out quite a bit.”
On if the freshmen are ready for the first game:
“They are prepared. No question that they are prepared. You are always going to have those first-game jitters no matter how talented you are and no matter if you are in the starting lineup or not. They are ready; they’re prepared and we’re ready to see them out there.”
On the team’s senior leadership:
“The upperclassmen have really stepped up and we challenged them to do that. One thing we’ve really lacked in the past is consistent senior leadership. They want to make their senior year the best year they have ever had and we want them to do that too. They have taken the responsibility of keeping everyone on track and helping the younger players feel comfortable and they are really pushing each other which is good to see.”
Senior Outfielder Maggie Hull
On the team overall:
“That’s what I can say about this team: we’re athletic, we’re competitive and its just fun to be around. The energy is very positive and we’re all focused on that first game we have a week from today against North Carolina State. We’re very ready to do what it takes to win and do what it takes to get to (NCAA) Regionals, which is our goal.”
On if everyone on the team is set in their positions:
“The mentality that we take is we are always competing for positions. Something Coach (Megan) Smith said yesterday was, ‘Even if you don’t play in the first five games, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s a long season; we play a lot of games.’ As of right now we’re really confident with the depth that we have. We feel like we can go to a lot of different pitchers and that a lot of different hitters are going to be coming in in clutch situations. It’s a good place to be at.”
Senior Infielder Mariah Montgomery
On making the move to the right side of the infield:
“It’s all about the team and what I have to do to help my team succeed. I’m willing to do whatever I need to do. If that means I need to do something to help someone else or something to help myself (get better), it’s all about the team. I’m ready to play as a team and get ready to go.”
On this senior class being the first to play all four years under Coach Smith:
“I know, as a senior class, how much we look up to Coach Smith and how much we love and care about her. They care about the people we are and not just the players we are, and we respect her very much for that.”
Redshirt Junior Outfielder/Pitcher Alex Jones
On how she has changed after her knee injury last season:
“My perspective as a softball player has completely changed. I was usually one of those players who thought, ‘What goes into a game? I’m just going to go out there and play.’ Just sitting by the coaches and keeping stats for the pitchers—so much more goes into than you think. That was a complete learning experience and I am taking so much more than just the skill of coming back stronger, but it’s the mentality of the game overall that has really improved.”
On if the team is ready for the first game:
“I want to leave for Miami today. Unfortunately, we can’t. I believe we’re ready.”
Sophomore Utility Player Maddie Stein
On her first season as a team captain:
“It’s definitely been a challenge, but I’m grateful and thankful for the opportunity that the coaches gave me for this year. More than anything, I’ve been trying to take in what I can get from the captains who are seniors this year and even AJ (Alex Jones), she’s been a captain for two years now, so mostly just trying to learn from them and make it better for the years to come.”
On being pushed by the coaches and her teammates:
“I definitely love to be pushed and I’m really glad the coaches feel like they can do that to me. I feel like I’m rising to this challenge right now and I’m really excited for where it’s going to take us.”
Kansas will travel to Miami, Fla., to open the season against North Carolina State in its first game of the Florida International Tournament, Feb. 8-10.
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