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Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Home opener today - maybe

March 5, 2008

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The Kansas University baseball squad plans to play its 2008 home opener today against LeMoyne College (Syracuse, N.Y.) at Hoglund Ballpark.

Weather permitting, of course.

KU has become accustomed to delaying its home opener after what happened in the 2007 season.

Last year, the Jayhawks didn't play their first game at Hoglund until nearly one month after their scheduled home opener.

"This week could be similar to last year with missing some games early at home because it's going to be too cold or the weather's not going to be good enough," KU junior first baseman Preston Land said. "But you've just got to keep pushing through, practicing and trying not to think that you might not play. You've got to prepare every day like you're going to play."

Much like the weather, Kansas' offense has been cold to start the season.

The Jayhawks were held to four runs or fewer in six of their first seven games - the exception being a 16-run offensive output in the final game of KU's season opening series at Hawaii-Hilo.

Kansas coach Ritch Price attributed part of the slow start to the lack of outdoors practices his team has been able to hold - as well as the NCAA pushing back the beginning of the season by a month as a way to "help" cold-weather colleges.

"We're a cold-weather team, and we have to go outside to practice and prepare so that we're not behind all the warm-weather schools," Price said. "After last year, when we didn't even practice until like the middle of March on our field, and we haven't been on our field yet, obviously it's a setback. But I feel like we made progress over this last weekend, and we got better each day of the weekend."

The Jayhawks have begun to heat up. They have scored a total of 21 runs in their last two games - a 9-5 victory over Iowa on Sunday and a 12-4 victory against Xavier on Saturday, both at the Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn.

Land had a hand in the sudden offensive spark with his 4-for-5 game against Xavier. Land had two home runs and five RBIs in the 12-run outburst.

The Greenwood, Mo., native leads KU with 10 RBIs, and his three home runs -just one short of his total last season - is also tops on the team.

Although the offense has had it's struggles, the Kansas pitching staff has given the Jayhawks plenty of chances to get the bats going. KU has a 3.63 team ERA through the first nine games of the season.

Wally Marciel will take the mound against LeMoyne - which lost 9-8 on Tuesday at Wichita State - or in Friday's series opener with North Dakota State if today's game is a no-go.

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