Feb. 14, 2008
LAWRENCE, Kan. -
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Softball Heads To Vegas For Louisville Slugger ClassicOff to its best start since 2003, Kansas softball takes a 5-1 mark into the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic this weekend, Feb.15-17. The Jayhawks begin tournament play Friday against Oregon at 2 p.m. and Portland State at 5 p.m. The following day KU will take on BYU before concluding the tournament with contests slated against Seton Hall and No. 23/RV UNLV on Sunday.
About KansasKansas' third baseman Val Chapple is off to a great start in 2008 as she leads the team in nine offensive categories including batting average (.400), hits (eight), RBIs (four) and on-base percentage (.455). Chapple's runs and hits also lead the Big 12 Conference. Sophomore Amanda Jobe has driven in four RBIs of her own with just seven hits. Freshman Brittany Hile and Liz Kocon lead the Jayhawks with two doubles a piece. As a team, KU has outscored opponents 24-12 and average 7.6 hits per game. Pitcher Sarah Vertelka went 20.1 strong innings in three appearances earning a 0.00 ERA for a 3-0 record from the circle. The sophomore hurler, who pitched 7.1 innings of hitless relief in a 10-inning victory over ILS Feb. 10, has 15 strikeouts and has limited opposing batters to a .155 average. Sophomore Valerie George (0.50 ERA, 12 Ks, 6 hits) and freshman Allie Clark (2.17 ERA, 9.2 IP) round out the KU pitching rotation.
Last Time Out
Kansas picked up five wins including a 6-0 shutout over Central Florida in the UCF Invitational title game to claim the tournament crown. KU picked up a pair of wins over Central Arkansas and NC State in day one of competition then extended its winning streak to three with a victory over Illinois State the following day before suffering a 5-2 setback to host UCF. The Jayhawks, however, would have their revenge Sunday in the championship game. KU battled for 10 innings before sophomore Amanda Jobe brought in the winning run against ILS to send KU to the title game.
Receiving VotesFor the first time since 2006, Kansas softball is receiving votes (three) in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll released Feb. 12 following an impressive showing in the UCF Invitational where the Jayhawks finished 5-1 and claimed the tournament crown. Kansas last appeared in the national softball polls at the conclusion of its 2006 season when KU finished No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll and received votes in the final USA Today/NFCA poll.
Out of the GatesJunior Val Chapple batted .400 in KU's opening weekend with eight hits, including a double and a home run for four RBIs. It is Chapple's best start since joining the Jayhawks for the 2006 season when the third baseman struggled from the plate getting one hit in her first seven games as a freshman and just one hit through her first eight contests as a sophomore.
Filling Humphreys' ShoesHeading into the 2008 season, Kansas wasn't quite sure how it was going to fill the void left by graduated pitching ace Kassie Humphreys but it seems the pitching staff has picked up right where Humphreys left off. Sophomore Sarah Vertelka currently leads the Big 12 Conference with a 0.00 ERA and KU is at the top of the league standings with a combined 0.64 ERA.
Kansas heads back to the diamond next weekend in Houston, Texas for the Houston Invitational. KU will play a pair of games Friday, Fe. 22 against Texas State and Centenary then two more Saturday versus Boston and Houston. The Jayhawks will conclude the tournament with a contest against Cal State Northridge Sunday.