RCW: Sport Spotlight 4.29 (Baseball)
— Kansas Baseball (@KUBaseball) March 30, 2018
A post shared by Kansas Baseball (@kubaseball) on Mar 31, 2018 at 11:44am PDT
On Feb. 2, 2018, the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow and forecasted another six weeks of winter. Since that day, no one has felt the effects of that prediction harder than the Kansas baseball team.
The Jayhawks had an unprecedented 33 home games slated for the 2018 season with 15 during that six-week window. As it stands, KU has played 18 home games thus far, with the average mean temperature on those days coming in at 41.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
“When you recruit kids, one of the things you do is be up front and honest with them about how our weather isn’t as conducive for baseball as it is in California, Texas and Florida,” head coach Ritch Price said. “The one thing that playing in the Midwest does is it teaches toughness.”
Price and his team take great pride in that toughness and use it as fuel to grind through the season.
“In this day and age, (toughness) is a required ingredient and a characteristic of all teams that are successful, and playing through the elements makes you tough,” Price said. “I give our team great credit. They have done an incredible job grinding through maybe the worst spring we have had in the last 10 years weather wise. I think the fact that we have won six out of the seven series we have played shows just how tough they really are.”
Of those six series wins, five have come at Hoglund Ballpark where the Jayhawks have compiled a 14-4 home record. However, those 14 wins haven’t come easy.
“It has been hard,” Price said. “It has been maybe the toughest spring I have dealt with in my time at KU. It has been frustrating at times. You have to constantly address it with your team. ‘Don’t let it get you down. Don’t let it take you away from your game plan or preparation. Try to use it as a positive.’ We have used it as a way to teach toughness and to take pride in what we do. All we ask is to play with some energy and play with some enthusiasm, otherwise it could bury you.”
With temperatures forecasted in the mid-30s this weekend when Kansas welcomes in No. 5 Texas Tech, Price embraces the challenge that lies ahead.
“My guys came to play for this great University and this athletics department,” Price said. “We play for the name on the front of the jersey and look at this weekend as a unique challenge and a great opportunity.”
The Red Raiders have played 12 road games so far this season, posting a record of 7-5. In those five losses, the average mean temperature of those games charted in at 48.2 degrees Fahrenheit – the average temperate predicted for this weekend’s matchup is 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall, the average game-time temperature for TTU in 2018 is 57.1 degrees, as the team has played 15 games with temperatures above that threshold.