LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the first time since finishing runner-up to Oklahoma at the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship, the Kansas baseball team, under the guidance of 12th-year head coach Ritch Price, opened its fall practices Monday at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks will hold 27 team workouts from now until Nov. 17 in preparation for the 2014 season. The squad will scrimmage various times during its fall workouts, including the annual Crimson and Blue World Series slated for Nov. 14-17.
KU returns 20 letterwinners from the 2013 season, including the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Jordan Piché. Also returning with 2013 Big 12 accolades are Michael Suiter, All-Big 12 Second Team, and Kaiana Eldredge, Justin Protacio and Dakota Smith, who were each tabbed All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.
Offensively, Kansas returns five position starters from a year ago, including its entire outfield of Suiter, Tucker Tharp and Smith. Eldredge is back behind the dish, while Protacio is the lone returning starter in the infield. As for the designated hitter, KU returns Conner McKay and Josh Boylan, who both filled that role last season.
On the mound, two weekend regulars in that of Wes Benjamin and Frank Duncan, are back for the Jayhawks. Benjamin started 15 games, compiling a record of 4-6 with a 4.40 ERA, while Duncan started 12 games for a record of 4-6 and a 4.20 ERA.
Other familiar faces returning to the Jayhawk roster are Tommy Mirabelli, Marcus Wheeler, Robert Kahana and Drew Morovick.
Price, now in his 12th year, is the second-winningest coach in KU history with 357 victories. He sits behind legendary coach Floyd Temple, who amassed 438 wins during his 28-year tenure.