Jayhawks Set for Senior Weekend, Host No. 24 Texas Tech in Final Home Series
April 26, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Only six games remain in the Kansas softball regular season, and the last three at Arrocha Ballpark will match the Jayhawks up against the No. 24 Texas Tech Red Raiders, April 27-29.
AROUND THE BALLPARK
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
In 2011, the teams split the season series as Kansas won game one, 9-5, but fell in game two, 0-10 (5). The Red Raiders have been nationally ranked in each of the three seasons Kansas head coach Megan Smith has faced them.
• In their last Big 12 action against Iowa State, the Jayhawks hit at an impressive .418 clip as a team to take the series. In the team's most recent action, KU's lineup hit a collective .300 in the doubleheader against UMKC. Heading into the weekend, KU ranks third in the Big 12 with a .297 team batting average. Only top-10 teams Texas (.338) and Oklahoma (.316) rank higher as a team. In Big 12 play alone, Kansas' team average (.249) checks in at fourth in the league.
• On Wednesday, KU collected its eighth win of the season when the opponent scored first. UMKC scored two runs in the top of the first inning during the nightcap (4/25), but KU came back to win. The Jayhawks are 8-10 in games that the opposing team beat them to the scoreboard.
• The Jayhawks moved to No. 43 in the NCAA RPI projections this week (4/24). Five of the Big 12's nine softball schools check-in in the top 25 and all but one school (ISU, 112) is in the top 45. KU is 8-13 this year against top-100 RPI opponents, and 15-15 facing schools in the top half of the RPI list (No. 1-144).
• Junior left fielder Maggie Hull snapped the team's longest hit streak of 12 games in the opener against UMKC (4/25), but rebounded in a hurry with a 3-for-3 effort in the nightcap that included her seventh home run of the season. The junior captain leads the Big 12 in batting average both overall (.424) and Big 12-only action (.407). 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, the Kansas pitching staff is holding opponents to a .231 batting average and holds a 3.08 ERA as a unit. KU's pitchers have struck out 277 batters this season.
• Leading the staff, freshman Alicia Pille was outstanding against the `Roos (4/25), collecting a complete-game victory in game one and earned the win in relief in game two for her 16th and 17th wins of the year. That ties her for third all-time among KU rookies (Stephani Williams, 1991). No Jayhawk has won 17 games since Val George recorded 18 wins in 2008.
ABOUT KANSAS (30-16, 5-13 Big 12)
Consistent offensive production is powering the Jayhawks' quest for a postseason appearance. Two starters are hitting above .300, while two more are hitting above .400 - including Big 12 batting leader Maggie Hull. The junior left fielder is on fire, hitting safely in 13 of the last 14 games (27-for-48). With six games remaining, the junior needs four runs and 15 hits to become Kansas' all-time single season leader in both categories.
Hull is one of several Jayhawks having an astonishing April. This month, KU is hitting .329 as a team since April 1, which includes games against Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas - all nationally-ranked. All but three starters are hitting above .300, while Hull and freshmen Maddie Stein and Chanin Naudin have been particularly explosive.
Hull leads the team this month, hitting .563 with 14 runs, six doubles and two homers. In a lethal mix of veteran success and rookies finding their groove - Naudin and Stein are right behind her hitting .488 and .455, respectively, this month. Naudin is pacing the team with 14 RBIs in April, while all four of Stein's homers have come within the last week. The rookie duo has driven in 27 runs since April started.
In the circle, Kansas has received an equally impressive April out of freshman Alicia Pille (17-9). With 59.1 innings pitched, she's carried the majority of the workload, but is 6-4 with seven complete games to her credit this month. Her 162 strikeouts are fifth in the Big 12, while her four saves are tied for ninth in the NCAA.
ABOUT NO. 24 TEXAS TECH (37-13, 10-8 Big 12)
Also led by a third-year head coach in Shanon Hays, Tech has already reached the 30-win mark for the third-straight year, marking the first time since 1997-99 that the program has done so. After opening the year 1-4 at the Arizona State Kajikawa Classic, Tech has won 36 of 45 games since that point, with wins in nine of 17 contests against ranked opponents.
At the plate, the Red Raiders are led by junior designated player Adriana Perez, who arrived at Tech following a two-year stint at Antelope Valley College. The transfer has made an immediate impact at the designated player position, leading the team with a .372 average and 15 home runs. As a team, TTU is hitting at a .291 clip with 60 home runs, second only to No. 5 Oklahoma in the Big 12.
In the circle, underclassmen are leading a staff that holds a 2.65 ERA with 218 total strikeouts. Sophomore lefty Brittany Talley (10-4) holds the slight ERA advantage, accumulating a 2.32 mark in 25 appearances, but freshman Cara Custer (23-8) shoulders much of the pitching duties with 181.1 innings of work this season. Her 23 wins are second only to OU All-American Keilani Ricketts.
HEAD COACH Megan Smith
On facing TTU head coach Shanon Hays, also in his third year of rebuilding a program:
On addition of key players Adriana Perez and Cara Custer bringing a new look to TTU:
On Texas Tech being one of the many perennial powers in the Big 12: