LAWRENCE, Kan. – Thirty-three games at Hoglund Ballpark including six series against 2017 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the 2018 Kansas baseball schedule released by the team Tuesday morning.
Of the 56 games slated for the 2018 campaign, Kansas will play 31 games against 2017 NCAA Tournament teams, including five games against opponents that advance to the College World Series (CWS) a year ago.
“The goal of this team is to make the NCAA Tournament,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We are usually successful in accomplishing that goal when we have juniors and seniors, and that is the case right now. We are a junior and senior laden team with experience and talent. To make our case, we need to go out and play teams of the same caliber, who made the tournament a year ago, and that is what we are going to do.”
Kansas will play 33 home games – the most since 1991 when the same number was reached – in 2018, something Price hopes is rewarding to his experienced squad.
“We are returning every position player that started for us a year ago, with the exception of Matt McLaughlin, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies,” Price said. “When you have an experienced team, you want them to have the opportunity to play in front of their family and friends, and be able to enjoy playing at Hoglund Ballpark.”
Fifteen of the first 17 games will be played in the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark, including the first 11 contests of the season. No other team in the 126-year history of the Kansas baseball program has opened the season with more consecutive home games than the 2018 squad will do, and Price hopes this will get his team in a rhythm before Big 12 Conference play begins on the road at Texas (March 16-18).
“We want to get off to a good start,” Price said. “We know we are rolling the dice with the weather, but when you have an experienced team, you want to get in a routine early in terms of practice and preparation. Opening up with 11-straight games at home will allow us to prepare to make that first trip to Florida State (March 6-7).”
Prior to that first road trip, the Jayhawks will open up with a three-game set against Murray State (Feb. 16-18), host UAPB (Feb. 20-21) for a two-game midweek bout and close with back-to-back weekend series against Northwestern (Feb. 23-25) and Texas Southern (March 2-4), respectively.
KU returns from the Sunshine State for a three-game series against St. John’s (March 9-11) – winners of 42 games in 2017 – and then hosts Omaha (March 14) for one final tune-up game before conference play begins on the road.
The Jayhawks’ toughest stretch comes over Spring Break when they will take an eight-game road swing through Texas and Arizona. Big 12 play begins that first stretch at Texas (March 16-18) and continues on the final three games of the trip at Baylor (March 23-25). Sandwiched in between those two series is a two-game set at Grand Canyon (March 20-12) – a team that would have been in the NCAA Tournament in 2017 had it been eligible for postseason play (2017 marked the final season of a four-year transitional period for the ‘Lopes from a Division II to a Division I program).
“It is a really tough eight-game stretch,” Price said. “Opening up with that many games at home, I felt we also needed to go back out on the road and get tested. It is going to be eight-straight games against NCAA Tournament caliber teams.”
Kansas returns home from that trip and plays the next eight games at Hoglund Ballpark against Missouri State (March 27), Morehead State (March 29-31), Creighton (April 3) and Texas Tech (April 6-8).
April 10-11, the Jayhawks find themselves in Nebraska taking on Omaha and Creighton, respectively. Conference play follows with TCU (April 13-15) at home, before Kansas heads south for four games at Wichita State (April 18) and at Oklahoma State (April 20-22).
KU will host in-state rival Wichita State for the return trip of the annual home-and-home series, before trekking to the Buckeye State for the first time in program history. There, Kansas will face Cincinnati (April 27-29) in the first meeting between the two schools.
A game at Missouri State (May 2) rounds out that road trip before the Jayhawks close out the regular season with three-straight conference series. KU welcomes in West Virginia (May 4-6) before heading west to rival Kansas State (May 11-13).
The final three games of the season will be played at Hoglund Ballpark against Oklahoma (May 17-19) and will serve as Senior Weekend, where the senior class will be recognized prior to that Saturday tilt against the Sooners.
Each home game of the 2018 season will be available to watch live on the Jayhawk Television Network (JTV), which is a compilation of ESPN3, Spectrum SportsChannel, Comcast, Cox Communications and Midco that reaches over 95 million homes. For more information on JTV, please visit KUAthletics.com/JTV.
In addition, thanks to an 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.