Kansas Breaks from Big 12 Play to Host UMKC
April 23, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. -A red-hot offensive weekend coupled with a Big 12 series win has the Kansas softball team riding momentum into a midweek matchup when the Jayhawks pause conference action to host UMKC at Arrocha Ballpark on Wednesday.
AROUND THE BALLPARK
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
KU and UMKC have squared off at least once every year since 1999. The Jayhawks have won 17 of the last 18 matchups as the teams split a doubleheader last season.
• KU nearly picked up its first series sweep of the season, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in game two against Iowa State. Tori Torrescano, however, hit the home run that made her the Cyclones' all-time, single-season leader to spark the 10-9 comeback victory.
• The Jayhawks are No. 35 in the lastest NCAA RPI projections (4/16), with this week's not yet posted. Four of the Big 12's nine softball schools check-in in the top 20 and all but one are in the top 40. KU is 8-13 this year against top-100 RPI opponents, and 18-16 facing schools in the top half of the RPI list (No. 1-144).
• Junior left fielder Maggie Hull stretched her hit streak to 12 games, the team's longest of the season, over the weekend and cranked out eight hits in 11 at bats. During the ISU series, Hull took over as the Big 12's batting leader with a .424 average, surpassing Texas' Lexy Bennett (.411). If the season ended today, Hull would crush KU's previous single-season batting average record of .400 set in 1979.
• On the other side of the plate, freshman Alicia Pille is keeping hitters at a .208 mark and leads the team with a 2.31 ERA. In her last outing, the freshman threw her third one-hitter of the year for her 15th win of the season. Two more wins tie her for third all-time among KU rookies (Stephani Williams, 17, 1991).
ABOUT KANSAS (28-16, 5-13 Big 12 Conference)
The production comes from rookies and veterans alike as KU overwhelmed ISU with a .418 average as a lineup last weekend. Captains Liz Kocon, Maggie Hull and Mariah Montgomery all hit .625 or better against the Cyclones. Meanwhile, Jayhawk rookies Maddie Stein, Lexi Bryant and Chanin Naudin posted consistent .300-plus numbers during the series.
Storylines for the KU hitters only continue to mount. On the team's longest hit streak of the season, Maggie Hull's 12 game span includes nine multi-hit performances. With eight games remaining, the junior needs five runs and 18 hits to become Kansas' all-time single season leader in both categories.
Stein, who moved right behind Maggie Hull in the lineup last weekend, broke loose for her first career homer - and then some. She became the second Jayhawk to belt two homers in a game this season (Montgomery vs. Delaware State) in game two against Iowa State and tacked on number three in the series finale. She leads the team with a .421 average in Big 12 play.
The dominant offense was supported by an equally overriding pitching performance from freshman Alicia Pille, who needed only 58 pitches to throw her first one-hit shutout in conference play on Sunday against Iowa State. Pille's 15 wins marks the most by a Jayhawk pitcher since Val George won 18 decisions in 2008.
Head coach Megan Smith noted after Sunday's commanding 8-0, five-inning run rule to close out the Iowa State series, that she had not seen her team put together a more convincing, well-balanced performance in her three seasons at Kansas.
ABOUT UMKC (19-25, 7-11 Summit League)
UMKC is hitting at a .238 clip with eight total home runs. Senior Kaelene Curry and junior Emily Ott are both hitting .322 to pace the offense and mark the only `Roos hitting over .300.
In the circle, junior Deanna Friese (9-13) and freshman Cinda Ramos (9-11) take on the majority of the innings, starting all but one game this season. Friese leads the staff with a 3.03 ERA, while Ramos is right behind her at 3.30. Friese is a dominant threat in the circle with 183 strikeouts on the year.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
"We know a lot about them; we always keep up with them. They're not having as good of a year record-wise, but they've still got really good pitching. It'll be a good matchup."