Like all accomplished baserunners, Darryl Monroe has been given the green light.
"I told him the only time I'm going to get upset is if he doesn't run," Kansas baseball coach Dave Bingham said of Monroe, a sophomore from Lawrence High. "If he gets the chance, he'll go."
Monroe, a speedy 6-2, 170-pounder who already has six stolen bases as many as he had all last year didn't swipe any in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Washburn at Hoglund-Maupin Stadium.
Instead, Monroe muscled up, smashing a home run and triple in four at-bats.
"I've got a lot of confidence right now," said Monroe, who is hitting .432 with three homers in 10 games. Last year, he belted five homers in 47 games while compiling a .325 average.
"MY TEAMMATES and coaches have given me confidence," Monroe said. "I had a good year last year, but I didn't have a good summer or fall. I decided I better bear down so I could help the team every day."
Monroe has shown so much speed AND power, coach Dave Bingham has been trying to decide where he fits best in the lineup.
On Tuesday, Monroe hit leadoff and homered to gave KU a quick 1-0 lead. He's been in the No. 3 slot in other games.
"I know he shows you 3-hole characteristics," Bingham said. "Maybe he has too much power to bat in the leadoff spot. But I'm not sure we have a leadoff guy like Darryl. He's a very fine baseball player."
He's helped KU to an 8-2 record. It's KU's best start since a a 10-2 opening in 1972.
"I THINK we're deserving of that," Monroe said, "because we work hard and we're a tight bunch. If we keep playing like this, we have a shot at winning a lot of games."
Jeff Berblinger and Jeff Niemeier had two hits apiece to lead an eight-hit attack. Pitchers Chris Corn and Todd Breyfogle stifled Washburn on four hits.
KU's pitchers have compiled a 2.66 earned run average heading into the team's spring trip, which starts with a single game against Stetson on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"When Jeff Niemeier stepped behind the plate in the eighth and ninth innings," Bingham said, "you could see the confidence level grow in our pitcher. Putting Jeff behind the plate is probably the most important thing we've done in our program."
Niemeier, who played first base last year, is hitting .474 to go with his solid work behind the plate.
Corn scattered two hits and struck out three in five innings and upped his record to 2-0. Breyfogle struck out four and allowed two hits in four innings to pick up his first save.
"I think Todd Breyfogle has been the missing link in our staff," said Bingham of the transfer from Scottsdale, Ariz., Junior College. "He could help us a lot."
Breyfogle, 12-8 at the juco last year, is a former draft pick of the Oakland A's.