As with baseball, now that the softball season is over, it's time to take a look back and recap what was in the 2015 season. You can check out the midseason report here, but we'll also do a little bit of comparing the midseason numbers to the final statistics below.
As a team, the Jayhawks (40-15, 8-10) bats cooled off a bit during conference play, but they still finished third in the seven-team conference in team batting average, hitting .314 on the season (only .001 behind Baylor).
Overall, the Jayhawks had a top-half of the league offense and a precisely average pitching staff. Interestingly, the Jayhawks only attempted two stolen bases during conference play (and were caught both times).
Oklahoma was light-years ahead of the conference in both hitting and pitching. OU led the conference in batting average at a .361 clip; Baylor finished second, right in front of Kansas, at .315. OU pitchers combined for a 2.19 ERA compared to second-place Baylor's 2.55 ERA - a full run better than KU's fourth place 3.62 team ERA.
Individually, the Jayhawks had several players in the Top 10 in several statistical categories and had several All-Conference honorees.
Junior SS Chaley Brickey (.386, 13 HR, 56 RBI) finished eighth in the league in batting average, fourth in RBI, third in hits (68), fourth in runs scored (52), fourth in doubles (14), and third in total bases (121). KU's most consistent offensive threat, Brickey earned All-Big 12 First Team recognition along with All-Defensive Team honors. Brickey only committed six errors on the season (at a very demanding position), good for a .966 fielding percentage. On top of all that, Brickey only needs five more walks to become the all-time base-on-balls leader at KU.
Freshman sensation IF/DH Daniella Chavez (.344, 15 HR, 65 RBI) finished tops in the league in RBI and fourth in home runs, good enough to earn her a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team and the All-Freshman Team. Chavez set the KU school record for RBI, which stood at 61 by Serena Settlemier in 2006. Chavez also knocked four of KU's 10 grand slams on the season. Perhaps most impressively, Chavez hit .404 during conference play and was named the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year.
Senior IF Maddie Stein (.345, 6 HR, 41 RBI) led the league in doubles with 17. Stein was an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree and also was selected for the All-Defensive team. Stein only committed one error on the season, putting up a .997 fielding percentage.
Sophomore IF Taylor McElhaney (.264, 2 HR, 18 RBI) was named to the All-Defensive team. McElhaney committed only three errors all season, good for a .984 fielding percentage.
Freshman C Jessie Roane (.331, 3 HR, 22 RBI) was named to the All-Freshman Team. Roane started 54 of 55 games for the Jayhawks.
Senior SP Alicia Pille (25-8, 2.90) finished third in the league in strikeouts with 200.
Sophomore OF Lily Behrmann (.369, 5 HR, 25 RBI) finished 12th in the league in batting average.
Kansas set a school record with 12 straight wins to open the season. The Jayhawks would stretch their record to 19-1 and opened Big 12 play at 29-2. KU topped out at #22 in the polls, holding that spot from March 17 thru April 14.
The Jayhawks are only losing four seniors off of this year's squad: Pille, Stein, IF Chanin Naudin, and P Beth Wilson. Pille carried most of the load for the Jayhawks from the rubber, tossing 211 of the 364 innings thrown by KU pitchers in 2015. KU will need to have someone step up in the circle next year if they wish to contend again.
The offense shouldn't miss much of a beat despite the departure of Stein and Naudin as Brickey and Chavez should buoy the KU lineup. The Jayhawks have now made two straight NCAA appearances, and look to make their third in a row in 2016. Hopefully we can avoid Missouruh in the tournament next year (the Tigers have knocked KU out each of the last two years) and continue to see the softball program reach new heights under coach Megan Smith.