Kansas ready for nonconference weekend set with Texas Southern


Senior closer Stephen Villines has racked up 38 career saves and is the new KU all-time leader. 


Date May 5-7
Time 6 PM, 2 PM, TBD, 1 PM
Location Lawrence, Kan.
Venue Hoglund Ballpark
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Notes Game Notes
 LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas takes a break from Big 12 play when it hosts Texas Southern for a four-game series at Hoglund Ballpark, May 5-7.

The Jayhawks (23-22) and Tigers (16-27) have only met twice in the history of the two programs with KU holding the advantage, 2-0.

Fans can watch all four games live on ESPN3 or tune into the audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.


  • Kansas has won five three-game series on the season – three in Big 12 play – marking the most won in a season since 2014 when the Jayhawks claimed victories in eight series of three or more games.
  • The Jayhawks hold a 14-11 record at Hoglund Ballpark in 2017 with a 9-7 mark in nonconference action played in Lawrence.
  • In those 16 games, Kansas has played about even with its opponents narrowly outscoring them 5.3 to 5.1 runs per game.
  • KU’s RPI has climbed to No. 62 with three games left against top-20 RPI teams (at No. 5 Texas Tech [3]).
  • Tuesday’s win against No. 16 Missouri State (May 2) helped Kansas sweep the two-game home-and-home series against the Bears for the first time since 2010.
  • The Jayhawks have played the 15th-toughest schedule in the NCAA that also ranks third-toughest in the Big 12 behind Baylor (3rd) and Oklahoma State (4th).
  • Kansas has claimed nine victories over NCAA Top-50 RPI teams, 11 wins against NCAA Top-100 RPI teams and has won three of its six Big 12 series, including a road series win against a then-No. 19 Oklahoma (NCAA RPI 27).
  • Twelve of Kansas’ 22 losses came against NCAA Top-50 RPI teams.

The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) named Kansas junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin to the Academic All-District 7 team Thursday (May 4) morning. A three-year starter at shortstop, McLaughlin holds a 3.51 grade-point average (GPA) while majoring in business administration. He was a named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2016, the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Team in 2015 and 2016, the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2015 and the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team in 2015. He is the 12th player to don this honor in Kansas history, and the first since 2011 when outfielder Casey Lytle earned the recognition.

For the third time this season, Kansas hit two home runs in a game when sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle and freshman second baseman James Cosentino each hit two-run blasts against Baylor (April 30). Junior shortstop Matt McLaughlinfollowed up that effort Tuesday against No. 16 Missouri State with his third home run of the season. The Jayhawks hold a record of 5-1 when they hit at least one long ball in a game, and are a perfect 3-0 when they hit two or more.

Kansas blasted seven extra-base hits in its win against Baylor (April 30) – five doubles and two home runs – tallying all but two of its hit total. Sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle and freshman second baseman James Cosentino hit the long balls, junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin collected a career-high two doubles, while Foyle, senior first baseman Marcus Wheeler and freshman designated hitter/catcher Jaxx Groshans added a double each. Those seven extra-base hits marked the most for a Jayhawk team in a single game against a Power Five school since hitting six doubles and a home run on May 17, 2015 against Kansas State.

For the second time in his career, senior closer Stephen Villines was named to the NCBWA Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List, bestowed to the nation’s top relief pitcher. Villines has racked up 12 saves on the season and leads the Big 12 Conference in that category. So far in 2017, Villines has posted a 2.86 ERA in 34 and 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 28.2 percent of the batters he has faced (42-of-149). In his last 14 appearances, Villines has earned eight saves, and has converted on eight of his last nine save attempts.

Kansas head coach Ritch Price has preached all season about being patient with his young ball club stating that in his experience, it takes about 25 games for freshmen to stop playing like freshmen. The skipper hit the nail on the head as he has his team headed in the right direction coming down the home stretch. Through the first 25 games, the Jayhawks held a 10-15 record with a RPI of 157 through March 31. In the month of April, KU posted a record of 12-7, won three Big 12 series and earned a record of 6-4 on the road to increase its RPI to its current position at No. 62. With 11 games remaining in the season, Kansas controls its own destiny with three games remaining against top-20 RPI teams: at No. 5 Texas Tech (3). The last time Kansas earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2014, it had a RPI of 44.

Kansas has played 45 games so far in 2017 and only three Jayhawks have started each of those contests. Sophomore Devin Foyle made all 45 of his starts in the outfield – 36 in left, one in center and eight in right – while freshman James Cosentino is the staple at second base. Sophomore Rudy Karre rounds out the trio having made 42 starts in center field, two at designated hitter and one at third base.

Senior closer Stephen Villines added his 12th save of the season against No. 16 Missouri State (May 2) to push his career total to 38 – the same day he was honored as the Jayhawks’ all-time saves leader. That number ranks first in the Big 12 Conference and first in the NCAA for the most saves in a career by an active pitcher. Villines is one of two Power Five closers in the top-10 in active career saves (10th – Troy Montemayor, Baylor [24]). Currently, Villines ranks No. 19 all-time in NCAA history with 38 saves and would need five more to crack the all-time top-10. In addition, his 38 saves rank second all-time in the Big 12 with a Longhorn (Huston Street, 2002-04) holding the top spot at 41.

Junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin was named to the 2017 Brooks Wallace Award Midseason Watch List. Given annually since 2004, the award is bestowed to the nation’s best shortstop. Six other Big 12 shortstops also found their names on the list with Texas and K-State not represented. 

Head coach Ritch Price became KU’s new all-time winningest coach at 439 wins after an 11-7 win over Northwestern State (March 4), surpassing legendary skipper Floyd Temple (438). It took Temple 28 seasons to set that standard, before Price eclipsed that mark in just his 15th year at the helm of the program. Price’s 457 wins account for 24 percent of the program’s 1,877 victories spanning 125 seasons.

If making your first Division I start as a freshman wasn’t enough, rookie second baseman James Cosentino will remember his first collegiate base hit even more. In just his second plate appearance in a Jayhawk uniform, Cosentino laced a fastball deep over the wall in right field for his first-career hit and home run, pacing Kansas to a six-run fifth inning at The Citadel (Feb. 17). That three-run blast propelled the Jayhawks to an opening day win over the Bulldogs, 7-5, and solidifying his spot in the lineup. Cosentino went on to start all three contests of the weekend at second base.

The Jayhawks wrap up their homestand May 12-14, when they play host to in-state rival Kansas State at Hoglund Ballpark.
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