⚾ Kansas Starts 2024 Season Against Illinois-Chicago in Corpus Christi

Illinois-Chicago vs. Kansas
When Feb. 16-18
Where Corpus Christi, Texas // Whataburger Field
Watch ($) Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Radio Jayhawk Sports Network
Live Stats Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Notes Kansas | Illinois-Chicago | Big 12
Social Media @KUBaseball | @kubaseball | Facebook

 

Probable Starting Pitchers
Day Kansas Illinois-Chicago
Fri. 3 p.m. CT RHP Reese Dutton RHP Dillon Schueler
Sat. 1 p.m. CT RHP Dominic Voegele LHP Brandon Bak
Sun. 1 p.m. CT RHP Patrick Steitz RHP Kendall Lyons


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas –
Kansas will kick off the 2024 season and the 134th season of baseball at the University of Kansas on Friday when it opens a three-game series against Illinois-Chicago at Whataburger Field. Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald will be entering his second year at the helm of the program.

“The guys have worked at a really high level and have been great teammates from day one,” Fitzgerald said. “Our schedule is challenging, and we jump right into it with a very talented and well-coached UIC team. We are in a good spot and ready for the weekend.”

The 2024 roster is comprised of 22 returners and 20 newcomers (14 transfers, six freshmen). The group is looking to build on last season when the Jayhawks doubled their conference win total and improved their overall victory tally by five games in 2023. Six Opening Day starters from 2023 return this season.

Under Fitzgerald, Kansas qualified for the Big 12 Championship in 2023 for the first time since 2021 and won its first game in the tournament since 2019 with a 6-3 victory against No. 1-seeded Texas in the opening game.

This will be the third-straight year that Kansas opens its season at Whataburger Field. A season ago, Kansas secured a 5-1 victory on Opening Day in the first game under Fitzgerald. Kansas Kansas is 20-7 in season openers since joining the Big 12 Conference prior to the start of the 1997 season and is 4-2 all-time at Whataburger Field.

SHOJ TIME
Infielder Kodey Shojinaga is back for his sophomore season after he posted the seventh highest regular season batting average (.378) amongst true freshman in Division I baseball in 2023. That helped him in being named a Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American, the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year, an All-Big 12 Second Team infielder and an All-Freshman Team unanimous selection.

Shojinaga led the team in batting average (.378), hits (74), multi-hit games (20), on-base percentage (.421) and OPS (.947), before earning an invite to training camp with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. He set a Kansas freshman record with his .378 batting average and posted a .418 batting average and 41 hits in conference games (both a league best).

DUTTON DEALING
First-year Kansas right-handed pitcher Reese Dutton was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Preseason All-America Second Team, the organization announced on Feb. 6.

Dutton, a senior transfer from USC Upstate, went 10-3 with a 3.29 ERA over 90.1 innings pitched in 2023 for the Spartans. He had 102 strikeouts compared to 30 walks in 15 starts. Dutton set the single-season program record at USC Upstate with his 102 strikeouts and tied the single-season program record with 10 wins. He was one of 22 Division I pitchers with 10 or more wins in 2023.

Dutton is the third Jayhawk in program history to receive NCBWA Preseason All-America honors. He joins Tony Thompson in 2010 and Jonah Ulane in 2022, who each were named to the second team.

Dutton is expected to make a big impact on the mound for the Jayhawks in 2024.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Fitzgerald and his program have received praise on the national level following the head coach’s first season at the helm. Below are comments from leading college baseball outlets D1Baseball and Baseball America.

“What Fitz and his coaching staff are building in Lawrence is mighty impressive. Fitz earned a strong reputation as an elite recruiter before his time at KU, and he has only continued that process while at KU. Jon Coyne also does an excellent job of evaluating and hitting the JUCO ranks hard. With the team the Jayhawks should have in 2024, the future is obviously very bright for that program.” – Kendall Rogers, D1Baseball

“I’m excited about this season of Kansas baseball. Coming off a solid first season under Dan Fitzgerald, the Jayhawks look like a team on the rise in a very competitive Big 12. With co-Big 12 freshman of the year Kodey Shojinaga and Chase Jans returning in the lineup and a bevy of talented newcomers joining the mix, this team is more than ready to take another step forward in 2024.” – Teddy Cahill, Baseball America

PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12
The Kansas duo of Shojinaga and senior Janson Reeder were named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Baseball Team on Jan. 24.

Shojinaga, a freshman All-American and the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year in 2023, returns for his second season after setting a Kansas freshman record with a .378 batting average. He also posted a .418 batting average and recorded 41 hits in conference games, which were both a league best.

Reeder earned the preseason honor following a selection to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Central Region Second Team and All-Big 12 First Team as a designated hitter a season ago. He led the team in slugging percentage (.558) and hit by pitches (10) and was tied for the most doubles (16) and triples (2) on the team.

COLLEGE FIRST
Freshman RHP Dominic Voegele was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 20th round of the 2023 MLB Draft this past summer. However, he decided to come play at KU instead of signing a pro contract.

Voegele was ranked the No. 5 pitcher in the state of Illinois, and the No. 9 overall prospect in the state according to Prep Baseball Report. He was an all-state selection in 2022 and 2023.

HITS FOR TEACHERS
Infielder Michael Brooks started a campaign prior to the start of the 2023 season to personally donate $20 for every hit he had this season to Lawrence Schools Foundation to provide school supplies for teachers and students. He finished the 2023 season with 59 hits, making his donation $1,180.

Brooks plans to continue the initiative for the 2024 season. He will continue donating $20 for every hit and will make a $40 donation for each home run.

DIVISION II DUO
Senior outfielder John Nett and junior right-handed pitcher Ethan Lanthier each transferred to Kansas from St. Cloud State for the 2024 season. Nett spent four years in the program and hit .394 with 228 hits in 148 career games. He was named a Third-Team All-American by ABCA/Rawlings and NCBWA in 2023. Lanthier was in the St. Cloud program for two years and posted a 7-2 record with a 3.67 ERA in 29 appearances. Last summer, Lanthier pitched in the Cape Cod League and was named an All-Star.

SERIES HISTORY
Kansas and Illinois-Chicago have a series that dates back to 1995. The Jayhawks hold a 9-1 advantage all-time in the series. Kansas won the first nine matchups in the series, which included scoring double-digit runs in each of the first six contests. Kansas has outscored Illinois-Chicago by a combined score of 114-36 in the 10 games.

UP NEXT
Kansas will play a midweek game on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at Whataburger Field against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Then, Kansas will make the trip north to Round Rock, Texas, to play in the Karbach Round Rock Classic against Texas State, Washington State and Kentucky.