Roos Get Set To Open Season at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic

Feb 07, 2012 -- 4:10pm

 

(Kansas City, Mo.) – The UMKC softball team will kick-off its 2012 season when it heads to Honolulu, Hawaii to take part in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic. 

 

The ‘Roos will open the tournament on Thursday against DePaul at 7:30 p.m.  On Friday, the Blue & Gold will take on Seattle (5 p.m.) and Hawaii (10 p.m.).  UMKC will then end the tournament on Saturday in bracket play competition as times are to be announced.

 

To close out the trip, the ‘Roos will face Hawaii again on Monday at 10 p.m.

 

THE OPPONENTS

 

» UMKC vs. DePaul » Thursday, Feb.  9, 2012 » 7:30 p.m.

Picked to finish first in the Big East preseason poll, the DePaul Blue Demons are coming off a 41-15 overall record, including 19-2 in conference action. In the NCAA tournament, the Blue Demons went on to finish among the final 20 teams and eventually fell to Missouri in the regional final.

 

On the mound, the Blue Demons return last season’s Big East Rookie of the Year and First Team all-Conference selection Kirsten Verdun, who finished with a team-high 22 wins and 138 strikeouts.

 

DePaul also welcomes back all-Big East performers Megan Coronado, Samantha Dodd and Allie Braden along with all-Big East Championship Tournament selection Lynsey Ciezki.

 

In his 30th season at DePaul, head coach Eugene Lenit has compiled a record of 1,102-527-6 which is fifth in the nation among active softball coaches.  His squad has also reached the NCAA tournament 16 times, including 14 out of the last 15 seasons.  In January, Lenti signed an extension to keep him at DePaul through 2016-17.

 

» UMKC vs. Seattle » Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 » 5 p.m.

Last season, the Redhawks finished 11-35 overall and 7-13 in conference play. 

 

Leading the way was junior shortstop Allegra Wilde who finished with team-highs in batting (.336), hits (49), doubles (12), slugging percentage (.493), on-base percentage (.386) and RBIs (30).  She also tied with Jessica Amador for the team lead in home runs with three.

 

In the bullpen, Seattle returns sophomore Richelle Ashburn and junior Jessica Ulrich.  Last season, Ashburn recorded a team best 7-16 record with an ERA of 6.15 to go along with 67 strikeouts.  As for Ulrich, the Lewiston, Idaho, native finished 3-16 with an ERA 6.65 and 39 strikeouts.

 

In his ninth season at the helm, head coach Dan Powers holds a 212-178-1 record.  In only its third season as Division I program, Powers has led Seattle to a 45-87 record, including the 2009 Division I Independent Softball Tournament Championship with a win over now Summit League member, South Dakota.

 

» UMKC vs. Hawaii » Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 » 10 p.m.

Picked to finish second in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) this season, Hawaii is coming off a 37-18 overall record, including 14-7 in conference play.  The Rainbow Wahine also had a conference-high four athletes named to the Preseason All-WAC Team including Jessica Iwata, Stephanie Ricketts, Alexandra Aquirre and Kelly Majam.

 

Iwata, the two-time time conference Player of the Year and 2011 Easton All-American selection, has posted career numbers that include a .362 batting average, 136 hits, 33 home runs, 102 RBIs, .699 slugging percentage, .434 on-base percentage. 

 

On the mound, UH is led by two-time WAC Pitcher of the Year, senior right hander Stephanie Ricketts.  Like Iwata, the San Jose, Calif. native, was an Easton All-American selection as she finished with a 22-11 record including a team single-season best in ERA (1.58), complete games (30), shut-outs (9) and strike outs (250).  For her career, Rickett holds a 74-32 record with an ERA of 1.99 and 589 strikeouts.

 

In his 21st season, Bob Coolen is the winningest head coach in school history with an 826-538-1 record. During his tenure, Coolen’s teams have advanced the NCAA tournament nine times along with winning three conference titles.  He has also coached 17 all-Americans, 29 all-West Region, and 49 all-conference players.

 

» UMKC vs. TBD (Bracket Play) » Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 » TBD

» UMKC vs. TBD (Bracket Play) » Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 » TBD

» UMKC at Hawaii » Monday » Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 » 10 p.m.

 

MEDIA COVERAGE

 

Live Stats:  www.umkckangaroos.com

Live Audio and Video:  www.HawaiiAthletics.com

 

 

SEASON OPENERS UNDER SMITH

 

Coming into her sixth season, UMKC under head coach Meredith Smith is 1-4 in season openers.  Last season in a 10-4 win over Jackson State in the Lion Classic, the Blue & Gold picked up its first opening win under Smith.

 

The previous four seasons, the ‘Roos fell to Missouri 12-1 (2007), Washington 14-0 (2008), Colorado State 6-5 (2009) and Southeast Missouri State 6-4 (2010).

 

THE INFIELD

 

The star-studded UMKC infield returns all four starters, including last season’s Summit League player of the year and First Team All-League selection, senior Kaelene Curry.

 

The shortstop out of Downers Grove, Ill., led the league in hits (63) and runs (44), while finishing second in hitting (.396) and on-base percentage (.473).  In league play, Curry batted .405 with a .476 on-base percentage, accumulating 30 hits and 19 runs.

 

Curry also became the school’s all-time leader in runs scored (109) and third all-time in career stolen bases (41).

 

Senior second baseman Kelly Fischer, meanwhile, started 52 games and hit .290 with a slugging percentage of .316.  In addition, she received First Team all-Summit League and all-Summit League Tournament Team honors and finished 61st in the nation in steals (24).

 

Currently, Fischer ranks first in career stolen bases (50), second in runs scored (90), and ninth in walks (36) in UMKC softball history.

               

Like Curry and Fischer, third baseman Megan Ussary received all-Summit League honors when she was named to the second team after finishing the year hitting.315 with 51 hits, two home runs, 34 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. 

 

Senior Danielle Bennefeld started in all 54 games for the ‘Roos, batting .250 with 21 RBIs and a team-high five home runs. 

 

Junior Chelsea Hartwig will look to bounce back after sitting out last season due to an injury.  In two seasons played (97 games), the St. Louis, Mo., native holds a career batting average of .248 to go along with 58 hits, 10 home runs, and 36 RBIs. 

 

In 2009, she received Second Team All-Summit League honors at the designated hitter position knocking in a school-record eight home runs and leading the squad in RBIs with 25.

 

Rounding out the UMKC infield will be newcomers to the squad, including Kaley Patterson, Kristi Lee, Marlee Maples and Bri Wyatt.

 

THE OUTFIELD

 

Starting all 54 games last season, junior Emily Ott hit .354 with 57 hits, 34 RBIs and two home runs.  In addition, she finished with a slugging percentage of .484 and an on-base percentage of .400, while finishing second on the team in stolen bases with 20. 

 

In the post-season, Ott was named to the all-Summit League Tournament Team after hitting .307 over a four game span.

 

At season’s end, the UMKC right fielder recorded the 10th highest batting average (.354), sixth most hits (57), ninth most doubles (11), second most RBIs (35), eighth most runs (28) and second most stolen bases (20) in UMKC single season history.

 

She also sits fourth in batting average (.350), 11th in hits (103), ninth in doubles (19), second in RBIs (70), eighth in stolen bases (27) and fifth in on-base percentage (.409) UMKC career history.

 

Senior Anna Sokolik, meanwhile, started all 54 games and finished with a .359 batting average to go along with a .479 slugging percentage and a .416 on-base percentage. 

 

Sokolik also scored 34 runs and drove in 36, while notching 60 hits, including nine doubles, three home runs and a triple.   In addition, she walked 12 times and stole 15 bases.

 

With her performance throughout the season, the Bettendorf, Iowa native received First Team all-League honors along with being named Player of the Week on May 9.

 

Coming off a medical redshirt 2010 season, senior Ashley Whiteside bounced back nicely as she appeared and started in 52 games while hitting .250 along with scoring 15 runs.  She also collected 29 hits, nine walks and 14 stolen bases.

 

Senior Megan Vicino, meanwhile, will provide depth and experience to the outfield corps, while newcomers Lea Diaz, Tara Wolf and Bri Wyatt will also see time in the field.  

 

BEHIND THE PLATE

 

This group of UMKC softball student-athletes includes junior Lindsey Davis, sophomore Katie Henning and freshman Caitlin Christopher. 

 

Last season, Davis started 11 of the 22 contests she appeared in and recorded four hits, including a double, along with three RBIs.  Coming into 2012, her career batting average stands at .202.

 

As for Henning, she started 42 out of the 46 games behind the plate as a freshman, hitting .204 with 23 hits, 28 RBIs, and nine stolen bases.

 

The lone freshman of the group, Caitlin Christopher, is out of John H. Guyer High School in Denton, Texas. During her career, the 5-foot-4 right-hander was the Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman and sophomore and the Catcher of the Year as a junior and senior. 

 

ON THE MOUND

 

Returning this season for the Kangaroos will be last year’s Summit League Pitcher of the Year, junior Deanna Friese.  In her sophomore campaign, Friese finished 12th in the nation with a school-record 28 wins and 18th with a school-record of 310 strikeouts. 

 

In league play, she recorded 14 wins with a 1.44 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 102 innings leading her way to earning Summit League Pitcher of the Week award four times.

 

Coming into 2012, the junior right-hander out of Kennesaw, Ga., holds a record of 40-21 with an ERA of 2.63.  In addition, Friese has recorded 518 strikeouts, completed 45 games and pitched 10 shutouts in her career.

 

She also holds UMKC records for most single-season (28) and career (40) wins, single-season (310) and career (518) strikeouts and games pitched in a season (42).

 

Ott and Sokolik also saw time on the mound for the ‘Roos in 2011, as Ott went 3-2 in six appearances, including three starts, finishing with a 2.48 ERA and 22 strikeouts, while Sokolik finished 5-0 with a 4.11 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 12 appearances, including six starts.  

 

Freshman right-hander Cinda Ramos out of Olathe, Kan., meanwhile, will add depth behind Friese as the ‘Roos No. 2 pitcher this season.  

 

‘ROOS PICKED AS THE FAVORITE TO WIN THE SUMMIT LEAGUE

 

The UMKC softball squad was picked to finish atop of the 2012 Summit League standings as it edged out North Dakota State by totaling 61 points and five first-place votes while the Bison tallied 60 points and the final four first-place votes.

 

“We are honored by the first place prediction,” said head coach Meredith Smith.  “It is obvious to us and can even be seen in the close voting that this season will be a battle.”

 

Smith added that she thinks her team is ready for the challenge and they will precede one game at a time until they secure a tournament bid. 

 

“Experience is something that will help us throughout the season and the feeling of going home in second place last season will be the fuel that gets us to where we need to be.”

 

 

UMKC HEAVILY REPRESENTED ON THE COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS PRESEASON ALL-SUMMIT LEAGUE TEAM

 

The Blue & Gold placed six players on the College Sports Madness 2012 Preseason All-Summit League team, while head coach Meredith Smith was named preseason Coach of the Year.

 

Receiving First Team honors were infielder Kaelene Curry, pitcher Deanna Friese, infielder Kelly Fischer, infielder Megan Ussary, pitcher/outfielder Anna Sokolik.

 

Curry also named the Field Player of the Year as Friese was named the Pitcher of the Year.  In addition, utility player Kaley Patterson was named preseason Freshman of the Year.

 

A SEASON TO REMEMBER

 

In 2011, the UMKC softball program, under the leadership of sixth-year head coach Meredith Smith, had its best season in team history as it finished 38-16 overall and 18-5 in The Summit League, to claim the regular season league title.

 

During the season, the Kangaroos set a school record for most consecutive wins (13) and Summit League series swept (five) along with finishing in the nation’s top 100 in batting average (.286), ERA (2.53), fielding percentage (.972), stolen bases (136), double plays per game (20), and stolen bases per game (2.52).

 

In addition, the Blue & Gold beat Kansas and Arkansas for the first time ever and finished with its highest RPI ranking in team history.

 

‘ROOS IN THE CLASSROOM

 

Last season, 10 ‘Roos were named to The Summit League Academic all-Conference team, including current ‘Roos Danielle Bennefeld, Kaelene Curry, Lindsey Davis, Kelly Fischer, Deanna Friese, Kendall Patterson, Lauren Rodrigues, Anna Sokolik, Rashonda Stanley, Megan Ussary, Megan Vicino and Ashley Whiteside.

 

In order to be named to academic all-League team, each student-athlete must post a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the semester in which they compete.  Additionally, Curry, Davis, Patterson, Sokolik, Stanley, Ussary, Vicino, and Whiteside were named a Distinguished Scholars for posting a GPA above 3.6.

 

Benjamin E. Bullock

UMKC Sports Information

Graduate Assistant

Cell: 816-830-4088

Office: 816-235-1053

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