Kansas baseball looking to finish strong
- Apr. 26, 2012
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Coming off an emotional walk-off game against Kansas State, the Kansas baseball team (17-25, 4-11 Big 12) looks to keep the momentum alive this weekend against Oklahoma.
April has been a roller coaster for coach Ritch Price’s ball club, but since snapping an eight-game losing streak on April 14, the Jayhawks are 5-2 with wins over No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 23 Texas and rival Kansas State.
The Big 12 coaches picked Kansas to finish last in the conference, and with nine conference games remaining, the Jayhawks are poised to exceed expectations.
“I hope we’ll play as good as we have been playing previous weekends,” Price said. “It starts with our starting pitching, which has been really good. If we can continue playing like that the last three conference weekend series, I’ll like our chances to get to the tournament.”
Kansas’ weekend starters have been effective all season, and sophomore pitcher Frank Duncan (4-5, 3.17 ERA) is coming off the best performance of his Jayhawk career. Duncan dominated No. 23 Texas on Friday, throwing a three-hit complete game in front of 6,256 people at Disch-Falk Field. The Big 12 named Duncan as the conference’s pitcher of the week on Monday, and he is the first Jayhawk to win the weekly honor since junior pitcher Thomas Taylor did on Feb. 20. Earlier in the season the Jayhawks struggled to score runs in the first inning, however the Kansas offense has found a new rhythm of scoring at the beginning. . In the last seven games, the Jayhawks have scored a first-inning run in all but one game. Much of this first-inning resurgence is due senior third baseman Zac Elgie. Of Elgie’s 26 RBIs this season, 18 have come in the first inning.
Elgie said that he tries to set an example early on in the game, but he has seen the entire offense improve over the last couple weeks.
“The biggest things is that we’ve gotten to gel, but finally now, we are starting to get some hits together collectively as a group,” Elgie said.
Elgie’s walk-off homerun Wednesday against the Wildcats saved the Jayhawks from a devastating loss. With the confidence back on their side, the Jayhawks expect to avoid a letdown this weekend.
“I think we need to carry it over,” sophomore outfielder Tucker Tharp said. “It was a big, exciting win for the team, and this will be a confidence booster throughout the whole lineup. To carry this over into conference play would be great.”
Edited by Tanvi Nimkar