Nobody is happier about the mild winter than Kansas baseball coach Dave Bingham.
Because of the unseasonable weather, Kansas was able to open preseason practice on Monday at Hoglund-Maupin Stadium instead of inside Anschutz Pavilion.
"We're like the farmers who plant winter wheat," Bingham said. "When the weather clears, the field is ready."
KU's fifth-year coach coach will drill his team on fundamentals for the next couple weeks in preparation for the Feb. 14 opener at Arkansas-Little Rock. The home opener is Feb. 26 against Sterling College.
Bingham isn't concerned about having only two weeks or so to prepare for the opener.
"THAT DOESN'T bother me," he said. "I try to prepare the club for the end of the season. Even though I want to win them all, there's not much at stake the first few weekends."
There is one noticeable change at Hoglund-Maupin this year. Fans will be able to sit on lawnchairs down the third-base line. The area has been opened up, although it is fenced in.
"We had tried to open up third base side for some time for an overflow crowd," Bingham explained. "This year we needed to replace the drainage (system) so we took the fence down.
"I've always wanted a chain link fence and an area for lawn chairs, so we put that up. Last year, against Oklahoma State, we had people hanging over the fence."
Those fans seated on lawnchairs will have to pay admission, also, Bingham noted.
"We seat 1,320 now," said Bingham, "plus the general admission area. My eventual goal is to expand it a bit further."
AS FAR AS the team goes, KU will be looking to improve on last year's 31-28 record (11-13 in Big Eight). That was KU's best overall record in 10 years.
The Jayhawks return 12 lettermen, including first-team All-Big Eight catcher Jeff Niemeier and second-team all-league second baseman Jeff Berblinger.
Twelve veterans return along with 14 newcomers, including nine freshmen.
"It's fun to recruit a lot of kids," Bingham said. "They are talented but inexperienced. We followed high-profile programs during the summer and chased 'em around. I'm excited about the class, being able to put high-caliber kids in the program."