Kansas look for strong defense to win against Texas this weekend
- Apr. 19, 2012
- 0 Comments
Last weekend, the Kansas baseball team (15-23, 3-9 Big 12) proved they could beat the nation’s elite with Sunday’s victory against No. 2 Texas A&M, but the Jayhawks face a huge challenge this weekend in Austin, Texas.
After dropping eight-straight games, Kansas enters the matchup with No. 23 Texas (21-13) on its best stretch since the opening week of the season. The Jayhawks defeated a pair of NAIA schools — Baker University and the University of Saint Mary — during the week, and the team will need to remain focused again the Longhorns.
“I think the mentality is good,” said junior infielder Jordan Dreiling. “We have a lot of energy heading into this weekend, and I think we all believe we can win. It’s going to take competing on every pitch.”
With only nine Big 12 schools fielding a baseball team, the top eight teams in the standings qualify for the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. The Jayhawks find themselves at a four-way tie in sixth place and have to win on the road to separate from the pack.
Kansas is 0-6 in conference road games and 3-12 on the season, while the Longhorns hold a 12-4 home mark. Texas’ pitching staff has been almost unbeatable at home, posting under a 1.40 ERA in 16 games. Coach Ritch Price does not expect to see a lot of offense at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, so Kansas needs to perform on the basic levels of the game to have a chance.
“They have one of the best pitching staffs in the country,” Price said of Texas. “These are going to be low-scoring games. That yard is huge — it’s one of the biggest ballparks in America — we’re going to have to pitch, play defense and execute our short-game assignments.”
Sophomore pitcher Frank Duncan will start Friday night against Texas’ ace Nathan Thornhill. Despite limiting opposing hitters to a batting average of .204, Duncan is winless in his last seven appearances. Duncan enters Friday’s start with a 3-5 record and 3.46 ERA, while Thornhill holds a 4-2 record and 3.53 ERA.
Senior third baseman Zac Elgie has been Kansas’ offensive star this April. After struggling in March with a .254 batting average, Elgie has seen his batting average climb to .306 thanks to his .316 average in April. He has hit safely in 13 of Kansas’ last 14 games and knocked in four runs during the current three-game winning streak. As the Jayhawks’ senior leader, Elgie plans to lead by example at Texas.
“Any time you’re getting some wins, it’s great,” Elgie said. “The biggest thing is that we have to compete. Every at bat, we have to go in with the mindset that yes, we’ll get some outs and strike out, but we have to string good at bats together and get clutch hits. You never know what can happen down there.”
Edited by Anna Allen