KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The UMKC softball team (15-7) will continue play in the 2019 season this weekend competing in the Creighton Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., hosted at the Urban Youth Academy. The Roos are scheduled to play five games in the tournament.
Participating Teams in the Event
Creighton, South Dakota State, UMKC.
About the Roos
UMKC continues their hot start to the 2019 season after going an even 2-2 this past weekend at the Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kan., building on their league-best start to 15-7. The tournament got off to a rocky start for the Roos, dropping the first game of the Jayhawk Invitational to Southeast Missouri State in which UMKC could not keep up with the offensive output of the Redhawks.
Bouncing back from a loss in the opening game, the beat familiar foe Maine 8-2 behind home runs from Sydney Garcia, Madason Shaw. Freshman pitcher Mia Hoveland came in and shut out the Black Bears in three innings of relief to pick up the save.
The Roos dropped a rematch with Southeast Missouri State early Saturday afternoon in another 2-8 loss. UMKC struggled at the plate, only producing five hits in the game. On Sunday, however, the Blue and Gold took on the host school, The University of Kansas. In an extra inning thriller, UMKC was able to score a run on a pass ball in the top of the eighth inning to take a 5-4 lead. Head coach Meredith Smith Neal then turned to standout pitcher Kailyn Packard to step in the circle and close out the game, and the freshman delivered.
As a team, UMKC stole another nine bases on the weekend bringing their 2019 season total to 51. The next closest team in the WAC has stolen 20 bases. The Blue and Gold continue to do well at the plate through the first 22 games of the 2019 campaign, holding down top-3 spots in the WAC in batting average (.295), slugging percentage (.453), on base percentage (.368), runs scored (127), hits (177), RBI’s (108), doubles (35), triples (6), total bases (272), and walks (63).
The Roos pitching staff of Hoveland, Cannon, and freshman Kailyn Packard didn’t have their best weekend as a staff, but have still allowed only 51 earned runs on the year, which is good for second place in the WAC and only one earned run behind Seattle.
UMKC will open play at the Urban Youth Academy at 3:00 PM with a double-header against the host school Creighton on Friday. On Saturday, March 16th, the Roos will start the second day of the Tournament with another matchup against Creighton at 2:30 PM before squaring up with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at 5:00 PM. Finishing up the Creighton Invitational at the Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City, UMKC will once again take on South Dakota State on Sunday, March 17th, at 1:30 PM.
Individual NCAA rankings
Kailyn Packard – 17th in ERA (.77), 45th in hits allowed per seven innings (4.14), 5th in saves (3)
Team NCAA rankings
11th in stolen bases per game (2.32)
Head Coach Meredith Smith Neal
The 2019 campaign is the 13th season at UMKC for head coach Meredith Smith Neal. At the Wildcat Invite two weeks ago, Meredith hit the prestigious 250 win mark in her head coaching career, with all victories coming while heading the softball program at UMKC. She now has 253 wins as the head coach of the Blue and Gold.
The Roos will host Seattle at the Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City, Mo., March 22-23 in the first WAC conference games of the 2019 season. First pitch in the opening game of the three-game series is set for 5:00 PM. The Redhawks and the Roos will then return to the field on Saturday afternoon for a double-header set to begin at 1:00PM.
The Roos are proud members of NCAA Division I and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). In 32 years of intercollegiate varsity softball, which began in 1988, UMKC is 469-958.
Looking back at last year
Looking to bounce back from a 15-41 (2-13) record a season ago, UMKC is only returning four starting position players from last year’s squad and must replace the team’s entire pitching staff. Bringing back two of their outfield starters from last season, the Roos expect big returning seasons from junior Sydney Garcia (.322/.385/.425) and senior Maegan Rollow (.251/.292/.357) to help balance the influx of 11 newcomers, including seven freshmen, to this year’s team.