Victory won't come easy at Hardin-Simmons this weekend.
So says fourth-year Kansas baseball coach Dave Bingham, whose Jayhawks open the season with single games Friday and Saturday in Abilene, Texas.
"Those Southern teams, those guys don't like teams from the North coming in and beating 'em," said Bingham.
"It's going to be a spring training type situation for us. It's a thing where we not only want to win, but also want to develop the team. I plan on playing essentially 13-14 position guys, along with using a lot of pitchers."
Bingham says he feels fortunate his Jayhawks have been able to practice outside lately.
"I FEEL the kids are on schedule, making nice progress," Bingham said. "For us to play our best game the 15th of February, it's unlikely."
The Jayhawks will travel to Arkansas next weekend, then open at home at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 27, against Washburn.
Bingham is hoping the Jayhawks can improve on last year's 27-31 overall record and 10-14 showing in the Big Eight.
"It's a very good team," said Bingham. "We can play defense, I think our pitching is starting to come around. The offense again will be a challenge. We do have a lot of experience."
Here's a look at the Jayhawks by position: Infield
Starters return at every position. At first, senior Mike Bard (.271) will share duty with redshirt sophomore Jim Hanna (.282). Sophomores Jeff Berblinger (.255) and David Soult (.287) man second and short respectively, while senior Gerry Camara (.246) returns at third, along with senior Kevin Marozas.
"We played good infield defense last season and I think this is one area where we will be rock solid," Bingham said. Outfield
Denard Stewart, second-team all-Big Eight as a junior, who hit .356, is starting rightfielder. He hit nine homers and 19 doubles last season.
"Denard is our team captain. He had an overwhelming spring last season and he played in the Cape Cod League over the summer," Bingham said. "Our hopes as a team rest a little bit on the season he has."
Leading candidates for the spots in center are Cochise (N.M.) juco transfer Chris Moore and junior Steve Meeks. Redshirt soph John Wuycheck (.229) and sophomore Jeff Niemeier (.253) will play left. Frosh Darryl Monroe of Lawrence High could see spot duty. Catching
Senior Garry Schmidt (.197) and junior Mark Moore (.276, six homers) return. Pitching
KU returns senior Steve McGinness and juniors Mike Massey and Eric Stonecipher from last year's starting rotation. Massey, 3-3, led all starters with a 3.53 ERA, and McGinness went 2-7 in 14 starts. Stonecipher, who had 88 strikeouts, was 5-6 and should be the No. 1 starter.
Sophomores Jim Walker, Lance Niles and Rob Merriman return in the bullpen.
"We have to replace a couple of guys in the pitching staff," Bingham said. "Obviously when you lose a couple of pitchers the caliber of Curtis Shaw and Steve Renko (now in Oakland and Montreal baseball organizations) isn't easy. I don't think we have anyone the caliber of those two, but I think overall we have more experience and a talented staff made up of good college pitchers."
Newcomers who could compete for a spot are: Chris Corn, Rory Ramsdell and Curtis Schmidt, all starters. Schmidt, in fact, will start a game at Hardin-Simmons.
Relievers include Joel Bacon, David Meyer, Brian Smith, Andy Lehman and Chad Ralston.
Seniors: Mike Bard, Englewood, Colo.; Denard Stewart, Las Cruces, N.M.; Chris Moore, Winslow, Ariz.; Steve McGinness, Plymouth, Neb.; Gerry Camara, Bronx, N.Y.; Kevin Marozas, Beloit.
Juniors: Jimmy Utt, Overland Park; Rory Ramsdell, Lenexa; Curtis Schmidt, Miles City, Mont.; Mark Moore, Overland Park; Eric Stonecipher, Rapid City, S.D.; Steve Meeks, Pittsburg; Trey Breyfogle, Plymouth, Minn.; Garry Schmidt, Lenexa; Mike Massey, Oklahoma City;
Sophomores: Jim Walker, Nickerson; Kent Mahon, Cincinnati, Ohio; Jeff Niemeier, Gladstone, Mo.; David Soult, Cincinnati, Ohio; John Wuycheck, Phoenix, Ariz.; Jeff Berblinger, Goddard; Lance Niles, Arkansas City; Rob Merriman, Newton; Jim Hanna, Emporia; Chad Ralston, Olathe; Joel Bacon, Wellington;
Freshmen: Colby Callaway, St. Louis, Mo.; Chris Corn, Louisville, Ky.; Joel Benninghoff, Newton; David Meyer, Tulsa; Darryl Monroe, Lawrence; Andy Peck, Lawrence; Scott Newton, Austin, Texas; Andy Lehman, Lawrence; Bryan Smith, Palatine, Ill.