Tough Non-Conference Slate Highlights 2015 Baseball Schedule
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Coming off one of the strongest seasons in program history, the Kansas baseball team beefed up its schedule with seven key non-conference matchups to open the 2015 slate, the squad released Thursday.
The 2014 season proved to be a hit for head coach Ritch Price and his Jayhawks after finishing third in the Big 12 Conference and winning nine-straight league games to close out the regular season. The third-place finish was the squad’s highest in the 18-year history of the conference and paved the way for KU to make its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament—the third appearance during Price’s tenure.
Among the 56 games slated for the 2015 season, Kansas will play 17 games against teams who competed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, including nine games versus teams who made it to the prestigious College World Series (CWS).
“I think everybody associated with our program is really excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” Price said. “I think when it is all said and done, this may be a top-20 schedule in the country. You look at the fact that we (the Big 12) had three College World Series teams a year ago and our league champion, Oklahoma State, was not one of those three, and our fourth and fifth place teams made it to the CWS – I think it speaks volumes to how good our conference is top to bottom.”
The Jayhawks open the first two weeks of the season with one of the tougher non-conference matchups where the squad will play its first five games against NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including perennial national powerhouses LSU and Oregon State.
Kansas kicks off the season with a three-game series at Alex Box Stadium against the Tigers (Feb. 13-15), who boast the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation by three different entities including Baseball America, before trekking to Arizona for the Big 12/Pac 12 Challenge (Feb. 19-22). There, KU will face two NCAA Tournament participants in Washington and Oregon State, as well as Utah and Washington State.
“To open up at LSU and Alex Box Stadium – it is without question the Mecca of college baseball and the greatest environment I have ever coached in,” Price said. “Follow that up with the Big 12/Pac 12 Challenge. That is going to be the best non-conference tournament weekend in the country. To line up with those four quality teams – I don’t think there is a team in America that is going to face a tougher opening two weeks than the Jayhawks.”
KU continues its tough road stretch traveling across the country to Florida for the Snowbird Challenge in Port Charlotte (Feb. 26-28) and then returns to Arizona to close out its first three weeks on the road at Grand Canyon (March 3-4).
“Those two quality weekends on the road, and then you throw in there Grand Canyon, who finished second in the Western Athletic Conference last year, and those are road games as well, we are going to be really challenged the first three weeks,” Price said. “I put that schedule together to help this young team grow and help them prepare to compete in one of the best leagues in America.”
Before conference play begins, fans can then check out their Jayhawks throughout most of the month of March as Kansas will host a number of home contests starting with its home-opener against Utah (March 6-8). During that home stretch, KU will also face Central Michigan (March 10), Michigan (March 13-15) and Iowa (March 20-22) before a short day-trip to Missouri State (March 24).
KU then hits the road again for its next seven games beginning with CWS participant Texas Tech (March 27-29) to open up conference play. After the three-game series, the Jayhawks will make their way back to Kansas to face Wichita State on its home turf (April 1) before heading South for three games in Norman versus Oklahoma (April 2-4).
The Jayhawks then return home to take the stage against 2014 NCAA Super Regional participant Oklahoma State (April 10-12) and CWS participant Texas (April 17-19) at Hoglund Ballpark. They also play host to Baylor (May 1-3), and conclude regular-season play against in-state rival Kansas State (May 15-17) in Lawrence.
Other big road contests include a lengthy trek to conference foe West Virginia (April 24-26), Northwestern (May 5-6), and then top it off with a visit to another CWS participant and Big 12 rival, TCU (May 8-10).
This year, the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship is scheduled to begin May 20 at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The tournament will utilize a double-elimination format with the champion earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Each home game of the 2015 season will be available to watch live on the Jayhawk Television Network (JTV), which is a compilation of ESPN3, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, Comcast, Cox Communications and Wow! that reaches over 95 million homes. For more information on JTV, please visit KUAthletics.com/TV.
In addition, thanks to a new agreement between Jayhawk IMG Sports Marketing and Lean Stream, fans can listen to every game for free live online at KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the Kansas Jayhawks official mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.
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