Playing five games in six days, Kansas dropped four of its five games to Arizona State and San Diego State. Kansas played its last game on Thursday in San Diego, and the Longhorns arrived in Lawrence before the Jayhawks did.
After taking two-of-three from the Missouri Tigers, Texas lost to Rice on Tuesday night. The loss was Texas' fifth in its last six contests against the Owls.
For this weekend's series, the Longhorns are expected to use the same rotation as the last two weeks.
Friday: Chance Ruffin, So., RHP (3-1, 2.27 ERA…31.2 IP, 23 H, 8 BB, 23 K)
Saturday: Brandon Workman, So., RHP (3-1, 0.63 ERA…28.2 IP, 10 H, 5 BB, 29 K)
Sunday: Cole Green, So., RHP (2-0, 1.65 ERA…27.1 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 18 K)
Even after surrendering six runs on Tuesday [the second-highest total of the season], the Longhorns' team earned-run average is still sitting pretty at 1.64. Austin Wood (3-0, 0.50 ERA) and Taylor Jungmann (3-0, 1.00 ERA) comprise one of the nation's best one-two punches out of the bullpen.
Despite having a couple of hurlers out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, pitching has been the strength of Kansas' club thus far. The team currently has a 3.31 ERA and, while the bullpen isn't particularly deep, the starting rotation should provide a tough test for the ‘Horns.
Friday: Schaeffer Hall, Jr., LHP (1-1, 1.37 ERA…26.1 IP, 20 H, 5 BB, 20 K)
Saturday: T.J. Walz, So., RHP (2-0, 2.79 ERA…19.1 IP, 20 H, 4 BB, 21 K)
Sunday: Lee Ridenhour, Fr., RHP (3-1, 1.61 ERA…28.0 IP, 18 H, 7 BB, 21 K)
Hall opened the season by throwing a no-hitter against Air Force, and Walz is coming off a win (6.1 IP, 1 ER) over sixth-ranked Arizona State.
Freshman righty Lee Ridenhour is perhaps the Jayhawks' most talented pitcher, and his collegiate career is off to an excellent start. Ridenhour is making his debut in Kansas' weekend rotation, but he has already defeated Arkansas in Fayetteville and pitched gems against Wichita State (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R) and San Diego State (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R).
With just two hitters batting over .286, the Kansas offense has struggled this season. First baseman Zac Elgie could be Kansas' most highly regarded recruit in recent memory, but his career is off to a slow start, as he's just 5-for-25 at the plate.
Kansas is currently led by senior catcher Buck Afenir, who has been tattooing the ball of late. The backstop is batting .429 with six extra-base hits in 42 at-bats.
The Jayhawks' starting lineup is expected to look as follows:
C: Buck Afenir, Sr. (.429, 3 HR, 12 RBI)
1B: Preston Land, Sr. (.206, 0 HR, 4 RBI)
2B: Robby Price, Jr. (.255, 2 HR, 8 RBI)
SS: David Narodowski, Jr. (.284, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
3B: Tony Thompson, So. (.406, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
LF: Nick Faunce, Sr. (.260, 1 HR, 13 RBI)
CF: Jason Brunanski, Fr. (.243, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
RF: Brian Heere, So. (.283, 1 HR, 7 RBI)
DH: Jimmy Waters, So. (.286, 0 HR, 5 RBI)
Burnt Orange Beat picked Kansas 10th out of 10 Big 12 teams, but the Jayhawks have been better than expected thus far. Although their record isn't spectacular, the starting pitching has been strong and they've already notched impressive road victories against Arkansas and Arizona State.
The good news for the Longhorns is that the Jayhawks are in the midst of perhaps their most challenging stretch of the season. Kansas was on the road for nearly a week, and four of the five games on their road trip were decided by two runs or fewer.
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