Six home games in the next seven days could be just what the doctor ordered for Kansas University's struggling softball team.
"We need to play, and we need to play well and get our confidence back," KU coach Tracy Bunge said. "We're struggling to find ourselves."
The Jayhawks will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak when they begin the week-long gantlet with a doubleheader today against Wichita State.
Game time will be 3 p.m. at Arrocha Ballpark.
In the opener, sophomore right-hander Serena Settlemier, who missed all of the 2003 season because of an arm injury, will be making her first start since 2002.
Settlemier has thrown only 81/3 innings this spring, all in relief, but she has been cleared to make her first start. It's unlikely she'll go the full seven innings, however.
"It would be surprising if she did," Bunge said. "But she could do it with an economy of pitches, and we need her to do it with so many games coming up."
Freshman Kassie Humphries (10-7, 1.92 ERA) will start today's second game, then senior Kara Pierce (13-0, 2.00 ERA) will open Wednesday's 5 p.m. single game against Missouri.
KU will be off Thursday and Friday, then play host Saturday and Sunday to Oklahoma State. The six-game home string will end Monday against Southern Illinois.
The Jayhawks (23-19-1 overall, 2-6 Big 12 Conference) are coming off a horrible three-game road stretch in which they were outscored 22-3 -- bowing 7-0 at Missouri before taking 8-0 and 7-3 lickings at Texas A&M.;
KU's team batting average slipped from .214 to .208 during that span, but Bunge is hoping a return home will help. She pitched batting practice Monday and was encouraged.
"We talked about being aggressive, to just see the ball and hit it," the KU coach said. "I feel we have a good plan of attack, but I know Wichita State will be up for us. They always are."
WSU, 25-15 overall and 11-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference, has won three straight from the Jayhawks, including a doubleheader sweep in Wichita last season.
Notes: Shortstop Destiny Frankenstein leads KU with a .293 batting average ... Settlemier, used primarily as the designated hitter, leads the club with 11 home runs, 19 RBIs and 22 bases on balls. No other Jayhawk has more than three homers.