⚾️ Kansas Baseball Opens 2023 Season Against Valparaiso on Friday
|Valparaiso (0-0) vs. Kansas (0-0)
|Corpus Christi, Texas // Whataburger Field
|Live Video ($)
|Friday | Saturday | Sunday
|Jayhawk Sports Network
|Friday | Saturday | Sunday
|Kansas | Valparaiso
|@KUBaseball | @kubaseball | Facebook
|Probable Starting Pitchers
|Fri. 3 p.m. CT
|RHP Collin Baumgartner (2022: 4-2, 6.50 ERA – SIU-Edwardsville)
|RHP Griffith McCluskey (2022: 2-4, 5.67 ERA)
|Sat. 1 p.m. CT
|RHP Sam Ireland (2022: 4-5, 5.27 ERA – Minnesota)
|LHP Lucas Gordon (2022: 0-5, 7.30 ERA)
|Sun. 12 p.m. CT
|RHP Hunter Cranton (2022: 0-1, 3.86 ERA – San Diego St.)
|RHP Ryan Mintz (2022: 0-1, 8.72 ERA)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – First-year Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald and the new-look Kansas baseball team will begin its 133rd season in program history on Friday. The Jayhawks will play a three-game series against Valparaiso at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Fitzgerald was hired on June 15, 2022 to fill the head coaching position after the retirement of the all-time winningest coach in program history, Ritch Price. Fitzgerald came to Kansas following one year at LSU, where he served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, and helped the Tigers reach a regional.
Prior to his time in Baton Rouge, Fitzgerald spent nine years at Dallas Baptist as both an assistant coach and associate head coach, along with being the recruiting coordinator. He helped in building Dallas Baptist to a nationally-recognized baseball program that reached the postseason in his final seven seasons on the job.
Since his arrival at Kansas, Fitzgerald and his staff have put a heavy emphasis on recruiting. The coaching staff brought in 18 transfers over the summer, seventeen of which are on the 2023 roster. Eleven of the transfers were from Division I institutions and seven came from junior colleges. The transfer class was ranked No. 24 and No. 25 in the nation by D1 Baseball and Baseball America, respectively.
The 2023 roster is comprised of 25 newcomers and 11 returners. Opening Day will have a brand-new look this year as the Jayhawks do not return any starters from the opener a season ago.
The new faces will stretch from the mound to the field. Beginning with the weekend rotation, graduate transfer Collin Baumgartner (SIU-Edwardsville) will go on Friday, junior transfer Sam Ireland (Minnesota) gets the call on Saturday and redshirt junior transfer Hunter Cranton (San Diego State) will close out the series on Sunday.
In the lineup, redshirt junior infielder Collier Cranford will start consistently at shortstop and senior catcher Cole Elvis will be the primary guy behind the plate. Cranford joined Fitzgerald in coming from LSU, while Elvis transferred from California after serving as their primary catcher the last three seasons. Junior outfielder Janson Reeder will be a critical bat for the Jayhawks in order to be successful offensively. Reeder has spent the last three seasons at Cowley Community College.
Kansas and Valparaiso will be playing baseball for the first time ever. The Beacons are coming off a 16-32 campaign in 2022 and Valpo was picked to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley preseason poll.
KU has gone 19-7 in season openers since joining the Big 12 Conference prior to the start of the 1997 season, and have won five of the last six openers. Last season, the Jayhawks also began the year in Corpus Christi, defeating Illinois 4-2 in game one and going 2-1 overall on the weekend.
HOW TO FOLLOW ALONG
All three games will be streamed on FloBaseball (subscription required) and live audio will be available on the Jayhawk Sports Network on KUAthletics.com and the Kansas Jayhawks app.
Live updates will also be provided on the team’s official Twitter page @KUBaseball.
Kansas will travel to Cleburne, Texas, to play Oakland in a four-game series at The Depot at Cleburne Station. The four-game set will begin on Friday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. CT.
Dan Fitzgerald on managing his first Division I game…
“I’m excited. I’m really thankful and beyond blessed to be here, and to be here with my staff, guys I really wanted to do this with, and then really just our entire team and support staff. Everyone has worked really hard, so yeah, I’m super excited. I can’t wait, couldn’t be more excited. These guys have worked their tails off and we are ready for weekend one.” – Dan Fitzgerald
Dan Fitzgerald on what kind of baseball the fans will see this spring…
“Hopefully we do a little bit of everything. I do like our power. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with our power this spring. We’ve hit a number of home runs in our scrimmages, so I do think we have the ability to drive it when we need to. I think fans will see solid fundamental baseball and the effort level, the intensity, all that stuff will be spot on.” – Dan Fitzgerald
Infielder Collier Cranford on why he followed Coach Fitzgerald to Kansas…
“I just trusted him. It wasn’t necessarily one thing he said. I knew obviously about Kansas basketball and the sports teams around Kansas. I knew that he had a vision, and that baseball was going to be that one day. Grow and be what we are trying to make it.” – Collier Cranford
Catcher Cole Elvis on what it’s like to work with a new group of pitchers…
“It’s a lot of fun. Catching bullpens, getting to know each and every guy. It’s been hard, but it’s necessary and good. I think we are looking really good, and we are all excited to get out there.” – Cole Elvis
Pitcher Collin Baumgartner on what he thinks about Coach Fitzgerald…
“He’s been great. He’s changed who I am as a person, not only on the field but off. He constantly preaches to be above the bar and that’s in every aspect, not just on the field, but in class and off the field. That’s really helped me as a person.” – Collin Baumgartner
Pitcher Sam Ireland on the expectations for this team…
“We’re just going to win as much as we can, it’s a pleasure to put on the Jayhawk uniform and all we want to do is go out there and win as much as we can. We think about today, and once that’s over you move onto the next one.” – Sam Ireland