The 2009 Journey
May 26, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. -
The Closing of an Era
Despite falling short of preseason expectations, the 2009 Kansas softball season was one for the history books. At the conclusion of the season, the Jayhawks bid farewell to head coach Tracy Bunge, as well as one of its most talented senior classes.
After 13 seasons at the helm of the KU softball program, Bunge announced her retirement. Bunge has been a Jayhawk for 17 years – four as an award-winning pitcher and 13 as head coach – the longest-tenured and winningest coach in KU softball history.
As a coach she led KU to 409 victories; 10 seasons of 30 or more wins, including five of the last six; four NCAA tournament appearances and the 2006 Big 12 Tournament Championship.
Also making their last appearance for the Crimson and Blue were seniors Val Chapple, Stevie Crisosto, Val George, Dougie McCaulley and Elle Pottorf. Each senior left their name on multiple KU top 10 single season and career record lists and were a part of more than 150 wins during their time at Kansas.
The 2009 Journey
It was apparent from the start that Kansas’ 2009 softball schedule was one of the toughest in the nation. An early season ballot revealed KU had the fifth-most NCAA Tournament opponents from 2008 on its schedule.
During their opening weekend, the Jayhawks faced three top 25 teams and went 2-2, picking up back-to-back wins over ranked opponents for the first time since 2006 with victories versus No. 7 Arizona and No. 9 Northwestern. The win over Arizona was KU’s first victory over the Wildcats since 1979. The feat also earned Kansas a No. 25 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll on Feb. 10, KU’s first national ranking since 2006.
Kansas made three more road trips over the next month highlighted by a 3-2 extra-inning victory against then-No. 10 California on Feb. 22. Sophomore Allie Clark came through with the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth with a two-out, two-run single through the left side.
After 18 games on the road, Kansas made its first home appearance March 6-8 for the KU Invitational. During the Jayhawks’ win over eventual NCAA Tournament participant North Dakota State on March 8, KU racked up 15 hits, the most hits by a KU team since May 7, 2005. Kansas went 3-3 in their own tournament and won its 900th all-time victory on March 17 versus Western Illinois to take a 10-14 mark into its Big 12 opener.
Despite losing two games at Oklahoma State to start the conference season, KU split its next four Big 12 series, including a split with border rival No. 11 Missouri- junior pitcher Sarah Vertelka’s first win over a ranked foe- when junior Amanda Jobe broke a one-all tie with a walk-off home run.
One week later, senior Elle Pottorf prevented a sweep by Nebraska on April 8 with a walk-off single to plate two runs. In the Jayhawks’ next conference series, Kansas boasted a win over 13th-ranked Oklahoma.
The Jayhawks closed out the month of April with a 4-1 win against Texas A&M in KU’s home finale and Kansas’ first win against TAMU since 2002 to stop a 14-game skid versus the Aggies. Sophomore Kolby Fesmire celebrated a personal victory against Texas A&M recording her first career home run during the third inning.
The Kansas offense made a strong push towards the end of the season hitting at least one home run in its last eight regular season games and totaling 15 homers in that span.
KU suffered two losses at Iowa State to wrap up the regular season and found out that the third time is not a charm as the Cyclones eliminated KU from the first round of the Big 12 Softball Championship the following weekend.
• Played 26 of its 52 contests versus 2009 NCAA Tournament-bound teams.
• Recorded five victories over top 25 teams (No. 7 Arizona, No. 9 Northwestern, No. 10 Cal, No. 11 Missouri and No. 13 Oklahoma), including its most wins over top 10 teams since 1997 with three.
• Head coach Tracy Bunge retired after 13 seasons at the helm of the Jayhawk program. Bunge hit two milestones in her final season reaching 400 wins as KU’s head coach and hitting 500 victories in her 16 years as a coach.
• The win over Arizona on Feb. 6 was KU’s first victory against the Wildcats since 1979.
• With its win against Western Illinois on March 17, the Kansas softball team recorded its 900th all-time victory. KU first competed in NCAA Division I softball in 1982 and is 911-624-2 (.594) all-time after 28 seasons of competition.
• Appeared in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll on Feb. 10 coming in at No. 25. It marked the Jayhawks’ first top 25 ranking since June 6, 2006 when Kansas was ranked 22 in the final ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. KU received votes in at least one of the two major polls for the first four weeks of the season.
• Notched a 4-1 victory over Texas A&M in its home finale on April 30 to stop a 14-game skid against the Aggies. It marked the Jayhawks’ first win over TAMU since 2002.
• In the final stretch of regular season play, the Jayhawks hit at least one home run in its last eight games.
• Finished with six team triples, the most since 2006.
• Val Chapple was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team for the second straight year.
• Dougie McCaulley earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors for the second consecutive season.
• Nine Jayhawks were named Academic All-Big 12, including first team members Val Chapple (4.0 GPA), Val George, Elle Pottorf and Amanda Jobe and second team honorees Stevie Crisosto, Dougie McCaulley, Sarah Vertelka, Brittany Hile and Liz Kocon.
• Val Chapple was awarded the prestigious honor of student banner carrier at May 2009 Kansas commencement.
• With the close of the 2009 season, several Jayhawks have once again rewritten the record books in many of Kansas’ single season and career record lists. Below is a list of KU players and where they left their mark in the records:
Val Chapple: Career At-Bats (8th-657); Career Doubles (6th-36); Career Home Runs (6th-18); Career Runs Scored (8th-110); Career Total Bases (9th-267); Single Season RBI (t7th-37 in 2008); Single Season Home Runs (t9th-9 in 2008); Single Season Runs (t6th-40 in 2008)
Allie Clark: Career Slugging Percentage (2nd-.510); Single Season Home Runs (t6th-10 in 2009); Single Season Slugging Percentage (7th-.573 in 2009)
Stevie Crisosto: Career Doubles (7th-34); Career Runs Scored (t9th-107); Career Stolen Bases (8th-36);
Val George: Career Appearances (7th-118); Career Strikeouts (6th-504); Career Innings Pitched (7th-500.2); Career Victories (8th-37); Career Complete Games (9th-37); Single Season Appearances (10th-41 in 2008)
Amanda Jobe: Career Home Runs (t7th-17);
Liz Kocon: Career Slugging Percentage (6th-.487); Single Season Home Runs (t9th-9 in 2009);
Dougie McCaulley: Career Batting Average (9th-.315); Single Season Hits (9th-63 in 2008); Single Season Batting Average (6th-.375 in 2008)
Elle Pottorf: Career Home Runs (t7-17); Single Season Home Runs (t9th-9 in 2007); Single Season RBI (t7th-37 in 2007);
• The following team awards were handed out at the conclusion of the season: Most Valuable Player- Val Chapple; Offensive Player of the Year- Dougie McCaulley; Defensive Player of the Year- Elle Pottorf; Most Improved Player- Allie Clark; Jayhawk Spirit Award- Ally Stanton and Elle Pottorf.
• Val Chapple was one of five senior student-athletes honored by Kansas Athletics as a Senior Athlete of the Year at the annual Jayhawk Senior and Scholar Athlete Banquet. The banquet honored its top seniors and scholars for their accomplishments in competition and in the classroom.
• Val George set a personal-best strikeout tally with 14 K’s in the first game of a doubleheader against Creighton on March 25. It was the most strikeouts by a Jayhawk since Serena Settlemier fanned 14 batters on April 30, 2005, versus Texas Tech.