Kansas softball won’t be catching any breaks on the schedule after dropping four of its first five games of the season.
After losing three of its first four games at the Kajikawa Classic against ranked opponents, all five of the teams the Jayhawks will face at the Michelle Smith-Clearwater Invitational will be against teams that are ranked.
Despite the rough start, the Jayhawks will still have a chance but it will take improvement on the slab and at the plate.
With better command of the strike zone, Jayhawks’ pitchers will allow less opportunities for their opponents to come up with runners on base. Also, they’ll be able to take pressure off of themselves, especially against ranked competition.
It can be difficult for pitchers to harness their control at the beginning of the season, but Kansas will have to adjust quickly.
Perhaps this difficult schedule is by design so Kansas will be ready for Big 12 play because head coach Jennifer McFalls saw the 11-1 loss against the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats as a learning experience.
"The game against Arizona was a great challenge for us. There is a reason why they went to the world series last year. They have a bunch of great hitters on their staff,” McFalls told Kansas Athletics.
Kansas also struggled at the plate against Arizona, collecting just four hits and when it did get a chance to score, one of its best hitters couldn’t cash in. Redshirt sophomore and No. 3 hitter Sydnee Ramsey left four runners on base against the Wildcats.
The lack of production falls on the entire team, not just the hitters, as the Jayhawks would’ve needed more than four hits and one walk to hang with Arizona.
A positive sign in the following game against the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils was that Kansas scored three runs in the second inning, showing the team could react to adversity.
The hot start wasn’t enough to keep the Sun Devils tamed though, as they scored six runs in the sixth inning en route to topping the Jayhawks 8-5.
"I felt like against Arizona State the team really responded," McFalls told Kansas Athletics. "I challenged them about being more confident and having some swag about what they are doing at the plate. We totally stepped out early in the game and controlled the momentum.”
McFalls’ team exorcised its frustrations in the next game with an 8-0 victory against the Seattle Redhawks.
Ramsey bounced back as well, driving in and scoring two runs against the Redhawks.
Despite dropping the next two games, the Jayhawks earned enough experience to lead them into battle against more tough competition.