Kansas Baseball Headed To Chapel Hill For NCAA Tournament

May 25, 2009


For the second time in four years, the Kansas baseball team will participate in the NCAA Tournament when the Jayhawks face Coastal Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Friday. Game time will be announced later in the day. KU earned a No. 3 seed in the Chapel Hill region, which also features host North Carolina as the No. 1 seed, Coastal Carolina as the No. 2 seed and Dartmouth as the No. 4 seed.

Games will be played at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. Friday through Monday with the Chapel Hill region champion slated to match up with the Greenville, S.C. region winner beginning June 5.

The Jayhawks (37-22) placed fifth in the Big 12 Conference this season with a 15-12 record, their best finish in the conference to date, and advanced to the Big 12 Baseball Championship for the first time since 2006. KU has qualified for NCAA Regionals three times in school history (1993, 1994, 2006), advancing to the College World Series in 1993.

A conference record eight Big 12 teams made the field of 64, including Texas and Oklahoma, who were selected as national seeds.

Press Conference Quotes

Kansas Baseball Postseason

May 25, 2009

Head Coach Ritch Price:

On earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament:

“Obviously, I’m very pleased for my team. They get an opportunity to represent the University of Kansas and compete in the NCAA Tournament. We’re thrilled with the site. The players were looking forward to going some place special, and we have that, getting to go to an ACC (Atlantic Coastal Conference) school that has great tradition and has been a national seed the past two years. It’s a great challenge, and something we’re really looking forward to.”

On the Big 12 receiving eight bids to the NCAA Tournament:

“I think this is the first time that this has ever happened. If you look at our conference top to bottom, and realize that eight teams have been ranked in the Top 25 throughout the course of the season, it’s an amazing league. Every weekend you go out and play somebody that’s ranked in the Top 25, and face players who are going to be drafted in the first round pitching against you. I think the committee recognized the depth of this league and rewarded those teams.”

On his confidence in getting in before the selection show:

“I really was (confident). Obviously I’ve been a Division I coach for 15 years, and I’ve studied it and watched what has happened in the past and tried to rely on those types of experiences. One of the things I’ve been told is that if you’ve played your way in heading into your conference tournament, you can’t play your way out. If you look at the top four teams in our league, we swept Texas, Oklahoma was No. 2, we beat them on the road two-out of-three. Missouri was third, we were 2-2 with them. Kansas State was fourth and we beat them 2-out of-3. I felt like our performance against the top four teams in our league would be enough to get us in.”

On the anxiousness of being able to play again and forget the Big 12 Championship:

“I think my youngest son (Robby Price) said it best yesterday when he told me ‘that was the first bad week of baseball that we’ve played in over a month’. I think our players recognize that we’ve been playing at a very high level for five or six weeks at a time. In this game, you’re going to have setbacks. I didn’t think we pitched as well as we have been pitching, and the tail end of our lineup had some struggles. We get to go back and get three days of practice in, which is something that we haven’t had since February to see if we can get back into that level that got us into the tournament.”

Sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson

On what he knows about Coastal Carolina:

“We don’t know a whole lot about them yet, but I’m sure we’ll find out real soon. I’m sure they’re a great team and we’ll have to play at our best to beat them. We’ll be excited to learn about them and find out what we have to do against them. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

On getting to play an out-of-conference game:

“It’ll be fun to see how we do with an opponent not in our conference. We play great teams in conference, and I think that’s prepared us to play the best. We’ll see how well that’s prepared us, and see how we stack up against the best teams around the country.”

Senior pitcher Paul Smyth

On the possibility of the team not making the NCAA tournament:

“You do your best not to think about it. We were trying to stay hopeful about the weekend, but we knew that after not really showing our true colors this last week, with so many bubble teams and our conference being so strong, someone was bound to be left out. So it was definitely a huge relief to know that we were going to get back to the postseason with our last shot to do it.”

On Oklahoma State making it into the NCAA tournament and another team possibly being left out:

“I think that echoed throughout the room, the room just fell silent. Everyone was so optimistic that we were going to make it in. You come to that realization about possibly being left out; Rhode Island got left out even though they are obviously not in the kind of conference we are in. But every year, teams get disappointed. We were keeping our fingers crossed that it wasn’t going to be us. As soon as we saw Okie State, we knew that was a bubble team, so that takes one of the spots away. So it was definitely a relief to see us back on there.”

On the feeling of the team after coming back from the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City:

“I think the team right now, it’s such an uplifting thing to be able to put last week behind us. It was the first week that we hadn’t played up to our potential in the last couple of months. I think what’s important is to put those games behind us at this point and put the right foot forward going into the regional. Know what we’ve accomplished throughout the year and build on that. Although everyone was down originally, and everyone would have felt much more comfortable going into this meeting if we would have won a game there (at the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City). The fact is that we are there now and we just have to keep building on what we’ve been working for in the past nine months.”

Junior pitcher Shaeffer Hall

On Kansas making the NCAA Ttournament:

“It was relieving and it is exciting to know our team is going to be in the NCAA Tournament, to keep playing for a chance to play at the College World Series and to continue the season. Everyone is excited. We are going to go to Chapel Hill and will hopefully play well.”

On his confidence in the starting rotation:

“The Big 12 tournament was one of the first weekends that we haven’t played well in a long time. Our pitching staff is still going to go out there and do our thing. We are still confident in our abilities and hopefully we will have the success that we’ve had all year.”

On having a week off before beginning postseason play:

“It does kind of refresh us and keeps our minds off of everything. It gives us a good chance to start over. We had kind of a rough weekend down at the Big 12 tournament, but we played well all year and everybody’s going to forget about that and continue to play.”

On eight teams from the Big 12 Conference making it into the NCAA tournament:

“That was not surprising to me at all; the Big 12 Conference is one of the most competitive conferences in the nation.”

Junior second baseman Robby Price

On the team’s mood on the bus ride home from Oklahoma City:

“The bus ride home wasn’t too bad; we weren’t pouting or anything. Most guys were still talking, having a good time. We’re a loose bunch of guys that don’t really let a lot of things affect us. Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but once we got back into Lawrence, we flushed it and were just hoping to get in today and have the chance to play again.”