Kansas baseball hosts annual Media Day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Joined by redshirt-junior pitcher Ryan Cyr, junior catcher Jaxx Groshans, senior outfielder Rudy Karre and junior righty Ryan Zeferjahn, 17th-year head coach Ritch Price kicked off the 2019 Kansas baseball season answering questions at the team’s annual Media Day held inside the Allen Fieldhouse Media Room.
Price laid out his expectations for the season and praised his players’ toughness as they have endured one of the toughest winters he has experienced in his tenure with the Jayhawks.
“It is pretty hard to imagine that the baseball season starts on Friday,” Price said. “I want to complement our players – the weather has been absolutely horrendous since we started practicing in January. I want to complement the gentlemen (Cyr, Groshans, Karre and Zeferjahn) sitting in front of you. Their leadership has been absolutely fabulous as we are getting started and having to grind through the weather. This is as good of a work ethic and leadership as we have ever had. I tip my cap to the upperclassmen for setting that tone at practice each and every day.”
Two-year starting pitcher Zeferjahn embraces that tough leadership role. He became the most important piece of the weekend rotation a season ago, and has his mind set on starting the team off on the right foot on Friday nights in 2019.
“I have been feeling really well this year,” Zeferjahn said. “I have been preparing well each week in the weight room and throwing with Coach (Ryan) Graves – getting me ready mechanically and focusing a lot mentally. Last year I was either going for a series sweep, series win or try and salvage a series on Sunday, and this year, I have the opportunity to get it going for us on Friday nights.”
The Jayhawks transitioned another pitcher in Cyr to a different role to become a Saturday starter. Cyr’s ability to pitch out of the bullpen gave Kansas a lot of success in 2018, but his four-pitch mix gives KU the best opportunity to succeed on the weekend.
“I have been a starter most of my career,” Cyr said. “Last year, I did what needed to be done to win games, and that was to bridge the gap between our starter and closer. I am excited to be starting again and hopefully can see some of that same success I had last year.”
That success is contingent on run support and the Jayhawks’ leading offensive returner Groshans hopes the squad can become one tight, cohesive unit.
“We are trying to take all the freshmen and sophomores under our wing because we know how good we can be,” Groshans said. “When you are around these guys every single day, you become a family. If you want to make the NCAA Tournament, you are going to have to be that tight cohesive unit, and that is something I feel we have this year.”
Kansas opens the 2019 season at South Carolina Upstate on Friday, Feb. 15, from Cleveland S. Harley Baseball Park. The Jayhawks and Spartans will play a four-game series with the conclusion set for Monday, Feb. 18 at 11 a.m. CT.
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