Price Names 2016 Baseball Captains
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Ritch Price announced Thursday that seniors Ben Krauth, Joe Moroney and Colby Wright will handle captains’ duties for the 2016 season.
“I am excited about this year’s group,” Price said. “They are not only outstanding baseball players, but they are even better people. They have complete respect from everybody associated with our program, from our players to our coaching staff, and to the people within the athletic department. They represent our program in a first-class manner on and off the field and in the classroom.”
The trio is each holding the honor of captain for the first time in their careers and represent each position group that makes up the 2016 squad – pitcher, infield and outfield.
“Individually, they are three completely different personalities,” Price said. “When you put them together, it is a really good combination to keep the rest of their teammates on track each and every day. It is one of my top groups of leaders I have ever had.”
Moroney was named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team after finishing the year with a .247 batting average in 21 starts. A three-time recipient of the Mike Hill, Sr., KU Hustle Award, Moroney has seen action in 70 games during his career and has compiled a perfect, 1.000 fielding percentage to go along with a career .260 average.
“Moroney is the ultimate teammate,” Price said. “He is one of the hardest workers we have ever had. He has complete respect from every single person in that dugout, and whether he starts or comes off the bench, he plays as hard as anybody in the country. There is not a better teammate in America than him.”
Krauth became KU’s second Jayhawk in three years to earn Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors after a stellar junior season on the bump. He finished the 2015 season with a 7-5 record in 14 starts. He was among the league’s top-10 in wins (7), innings pitched (91 1/3) and strikeouts (84). He pitched his way to the All-Big 12 Second Team honors and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week once. He tossed a career-best nine strikeouts in back-to-back starts against Oklahoma State (April 10) and Texas (April 17), and finished the season one pick off short (8) of the KU single-season record, including three at West Virginia (March 24).
Krauth is the third-straight junior college transfer to don the honor of holding a captain’s title, and is the fourth transfer in the Price era, joining Sean Richardson (2005), Jordan Piche´ (2014) and Blair Beck (2015).
“We expect big things from Krauth,” Price said. “For us to get back into the top-25 like in 2014, we need him to win 10 games on Friday night. He is capable of doing that. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is as great a person as I have ever been associated with.”
A two-time Academic All-Big 12 Second Team and 2014 All-Big 12 Second Team honoree, Wright played in 40 games in 2015, making 38 starts. He batted .264 with a .435 on-base percentage and was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases. He missed the last 16 games due to injury.
In 2014, he saw a major shift in playing time. Posting a .314 batting average, he was a major factor in the Jayhawks’ lineup. The most difficult batter to get out on the team, Wright found himself sitting in fourth at the end of that season with a .415 on-base percentage on the conference charts.
“Wright will be a three-year starter and a four-year letterwinner at the end of this year,” Price said. “We expected him to sign (in the MLB draft) last year, but he pulled that oblique muscle and missed the last 16 games of the season. It is great to have him back. He is tough and competitive, and wants to win. He is one of those players that leads by example.”
The Jayhawks start the 2016 season with a single game at Little Rock, Saturday, Feb. 20, before opening up Hoglund Ballpark for a two-game stint Feb. 22-23 with Northern Colorado. Kansas will then hit the road and travel to Arizona for the Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge, Feb. 25-28, where it will play two games each against Utah and Oregon State.
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