Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: Kansas Baseball

KU at-a-glance:
-Program founded: 1880
-Overall record: 1,737-1,662-17
-1 College World Series appearance (1993)
-4 NCAA Tournament appearances (most recent: 2009)
-3 regular-season conference championships (most recent: 1949)
-4 All-Americans

History with TCU:  The Jayhawks and Frogs have met six times on the baseball diamond, with TCU holding a 4-2 advantage currently.  Their most recent meeting was a three-game set in Fort Worth to open the 2011 season, in which the Frogs took 2 of 3.  KU did take the thrilling series finale, though, with a 4-3 win in 14 innings.  That series, with nearly 15,000 total fans entering the turnstiles, was the highest attended series in Lupton Stadium history.  The Friday night opener, with 6,099 fans, still holds the single-game record.  If KU coming to town breaks attendance records like that, imagine what it will be like when the rest of the Big 12 is regularly coming to Fort Worth for weekend series!

Recent history:  Richie Price, who had spent most of his life and coaching career on the west coast, became the head coach at KU prior to the 2003 season.  In 2006, the Jayhawks surprised just about everyone by winning the Big 12 Tournament as the #6 seed, earning their first NCAA Tournament berth in 12 years.  Three years later, the '09 Jayhawks won 39 games and again made the NCAA field- losing to Omaha-bound North Carolina in the regionals. 

Outlook for next year: The Jayhawks have failed to build upon the success of the '06 or '09 teams, as their win totals have dropped every year since with 31 wins in 2010 and 26 last year.  This year, they currently sit at 20-31 with just three games remaining in the regular season.  They're 8th in the Big 12 right now, a half-game ahead of in-state rival Kansas State, who has the tie-breaker on them.  This is important because only 8 teams make the Big 12 Tournament.  They are a young team, though, so they could be a markedly better squad next year if their young players improve and their draft-eligible juniors decide to stay. 

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