Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Bunge seeks aggressive start

KU softball team welcomes Arkansas for doubleheader


Tracy Bunge says she loves the chemistry of her Kansas University softball team. Sometimes, though, Bunge wonders how to light the Bunsen burner.

For example, in Sunday's 5-3 loss to Baylor at Arrocha Ballpark, the Jayhawks didn't generate any offense until the last two innings.

"I loved the fact we had fight," Bunge said, "but there have been multiple times this season when we've waited until the sixth or seventh innings. We need to come out aggressive."

Bunge will be hoping for a pair of fast starts today when the Jayhawks entertain Arkansas in a doubleheader. The first game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Arrocha Ballpark with the finale likely to begin around 4 p.m.

Kansas (25-11-1) mustered only four hits Sunday against two Baylor pitchers, but three came in the last two frames.

"We got fired up," freshman second baseman Sara Ramirez said of the last eruption. "We just came up to the plate like we owned it."

Ramirez slugged her fourth home run of the season Sunday while catcher Elle Pottorf bashed her team-leading eighth round-tripper. Nicole Washburn contributed a lined double.

"When they play with that kind of passion and intensity," Bunge said of her players, "they're as good as anybody."

Bunge does not divulge her pitching plans until hours before game time, but it's quite likely Valerie George will start one of today's contests.

George has won her last eight decisions after an 0-2 start, and the sophomore right-hander sparkled in relief Sunday, giving up only one hit and fanning six in three-plus innings. George's earned-run average dipped to a team-low 1.66.

Meanwhile, staff ace Kassie Humphreys was roughed up by the Bears. The senior right-hander was touched for 10 hits and 10 earned runs in 8-plus innings and her ERA ballooned from 1.50 to 1.99.

"She's a little off right now," Bunge said of Humphreys, "and she's struggling to find herself."

Arkansas' record is a dismal 15-30, but the Razorbacks are coming off a doubleheader sweep of Kentucky and, noted Bunge, "They always play us close."

Kansas eked out 2-1 and 1-0 wins over the 'Hogs last season.

The Jayhawks will resume Big 12 Conference play Wednesday when they play host to Nebraska in a 3 p.m. single game.


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