2012 Kansas Softball Season Preview: Pitchers
Feb. 2, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. -In the first of a four-part Kansas softball season preview, pitching is the highlight as the Jayhawks add three elite newcomers and return a pair of experienced arms to comprise the 2012 pitching staff.
The addition of former Oklahoma All-American, D.J. Mathis, as the Jayhawk pitching coach prior to the 2011 season made immediate impact in the circle. The Kansas pitching staff saw its team ERA drop from 4.24 in 2010 to 3.71 in 2011 en route to 10 more wins in the same span.
This spring, KU loses two arms from the 2011 season, one to graduation (Allie Clark) and the other to a season-ending injury (Alex Jones). Replacing those gaps are a pair of returners, including 12-game winner and the team's 2011 Rookie of the Year, sophomore Kristin Martinez. Martinez's 34 appearances and 12 victories in 2011 rank in the top-five, all-time among KU freshmen. Alongside her, is experienced senior Ashley Spencer, who enters her second year at Kansas after spending her first two seasons at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kan.
Three newcomers will add the depth head coach Megan Smith has been working to build since arriving at Kansas with junior Morgan Druhan, a transfer from South Alabama, and freshmen Alicia Pille and Emily Stokes. At South Alabama, Druhan turned in a 10-6 season during her sophomore campaign along with 143 strikeouts; which would have topped the Kansas pitching staff in 2011.
A highly-touted freshman, Pille, will see substantial innings as a rookie. During her senior season at Royse City High School (Texas), Pille once struck out 33 batters in a 16-inning game to lead her team to a 1-0 win in a Class 4A playoff series. The next night, she came back with a 13-strikeout effort to give her 21-straight victories in the circle.
The District 13-4A MVP and a two-time Conference Pitcher of the Year, Pille struck out 431 batters and posted a 0.32 ERA during her senior season en route to 16 shutouts, nine no-hitters and three perfect games.
Stokes, a Hamilton, Calif., native, comes to Kansas after racking up 1,331 career strikeouts as a starter at Hamilton High School. She was named the Northern Section Female Athlete of the Year and also served as the class valedictorian.
Kansas officially opens the 2012 season against Tennessee-Martin on Friday, Feb. 10 at 12:30 pm CT. The matchup marks the first of five games the Jayhawks will play at the Southeastern Lion Classic in Hammond, La., Feb. 10-12.
Head Coach Megan Smith
On gaining experience with junior-transfer Morgan Druhan:
On the freshmen pitchers:
"Emily Stokes has improved a lot, had a lot of tools coming in and already has added more to develop a better change up. Alicia Pille is a dominant pitcher. She goes out and you can see it in her eyes that she's ready to attack hitters. She has the mindset that she wants to dominate, which is a must in the circle."