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Tale of the Tait

KU football locker room renovations under way

An artist's rendering of the new-look KU football locker room, coming this summer. Illustration courtesy of Kansas Athletics.

An artist's rendering of the new-look KU football locker room, coming this summer. Illustration courtesy of Kansas Athletics. by Matt Tait

You may have read a couple of weeks ago about the $2-2.5 million Anderson Family Football Complex upgrades planned for the Kansas University football program.

A new-look locker room, new players lounge and updated Mrkonic Auditorium film and meeting room were the cornerstones of the project and the goal was for the upgrades to be finished in time for preseason camp and the 2016 season.

Now, thanks to KU staff member Tyler Olker, we have visual evidence that the project is 100 percent under way.

Olker, KU's director of recruiting, posted to Twitter four pics of the early stages of the locker room makeover and you can see that construction crews are wasting no time getting going.

In case you forgot, the photo at the top of the blog is an artist's rendering of what the finished locker room will look like. Below are Olker's four photos of the initial progress.

Stay tuned for more...

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Reply 4 comments from Steve Corder Michael Maris Greg Ledom Brett McCabe

100 days out from another KU football opener & why you should care

Well, here we are, 100 days away from the start of yet another college football season.

And, as much as that’s a national holiday for the rest of the country, it often is a day to dread for Kansas fans. Not only is the interest in this program at an all-time low — and you can say that by any number of measures from season ticket sales to message board traffic and everything in between — but the idea of actually attending a football game and, heaven forbid actually staying to watch it, seems to have become something people get mocked for around here.

That only makes a hard job harder for second-year coach David Beaty and his Jayhawks, who, like every other college football team in America, have been working their butts off since the end of the 2015 season in hopes that the work they put in during the down months will pay off in the fall.

Knowing that it’s going to take more than the abstract promise of continued improvement to get KU fans fired up for another football season, let’s look at six reasons to get excited about the arrival of game day, exactly 100 days from today.

1. Game 1 is winnable. Big time. Not only should the Jayhawks be favored to beat Rhode Island in the opener, they should do it. It’s been a long time since KU put a hurting on an opponent in a season opener and there’s no better way to get the fan base jacked than by putting up a big number and rolling to a comfortable rout during Week 1. During the final four seasons under Mark Mangino, KU won its opener by an average of 38 points. In the six seasons — and three head coaches — since Mangino left town, KU has won four openers by an average of 14 points and lost two. Nothing would be more helpful toward getting things turned around than an old-fashioned butt-kicking on Sept. 3 at Memorial Stadium.

2. New offenses can be fun. Especially when they’re Air Raid offenses designed to get the ball to playmakers in space and operate at a pace that puts the defense on its heels. Forget about what you saw last year and consider KU’s 2015 offense the bridge between Charlie Weis’ pro style packages and what Beaty believes KU can run. If you show up on Sept. 3 and see more of the same, head back to the car and take that cooler full of cold beverages to the pool or the lake. But at least show up and check it out. Who knows? Even though KU does not have the talent it had during the Todd Reesing era, this new-look offense might remind you a little of that and you just might like it.

3. KU’s defense figures to be much improved. We saw evidence of this in the spring, when the KU defense most often got the better of the offense during scrimmages and the spring game. And I’ve heard some chatter about defensive coordinator Clint Bowen really getting his crew to buy in to what he wants to do. Some of the credit for that goes to experience. Some of it goes to the leaders like Fish Smithson, Joe Dineen, Marcquis Roberts and Brandon Stewart. And some of it goes to the addition of linebackers coach Todd Bradford and his ability to work well with Bowen and the other defensive assistants. Time will tell just how good this group actually can be, but you can expect to see a confident crew that takes the field with some bounce and swagger on Sept. 3.

4. Time to meet the new faces. By the time Sept. 3 rolls around, you’ll have read plenty about cornerback Kyle Mayberry, defensive linemen DeeIsaac Davis and Isi Holani, linebacker Maciah Long, cornerback Stephan Robinson and defensive end Isaiah Bean. But this will be your first chance to actually see them play. You never know when KU’s coaching staff is going to land that player or pack of players that might be responsible for jump-starting a turn-around. Could he be on the list of names above?

5. The weather should be gorgeous. I know it’s a long ways away still and weathermen and women don’t normally forecast 100 days out, but if history tells us anything the opener should be very nice. According to usclimatedata.com, September is one of just two months each year in which the average high temperature in Lawrence is in the 70s. And they don’t play football around here in May, so why not take advantage of that?

6. Tailgating, man. My esteemed colleague Gary Bedore has called KU’s tailgating atmosphere one of the best decisions the athletic department ever made. Remember, there was a time not that long ago when fans were not allowed to consume adult beverages and enjoy one of the best parts about college football anywhere near Memorial Stadium. That changed back in 2001, and today, even when the likelihood of KU winning a game inside the stadium is low, the buzz outside the stadium is high, both from a participation perspective and the way the whole scene makes the areas surrounding Memorial Stadium, from the hill to the parking lots, look like a big time college football environment.

In the next 99 days, we'll have all kinds of info and analysis of the season ahead, but hopefully what you just read will whet your appetite just a little for that season opener against Rhode Island that is closer than you think.

In case it didn't, here are a few recent comments from Beaty on the opener...

"We gotta win some games. And that starts with one. We are focused on going 1-0 against Rhode Island I honestly don’t even know who else is on our schedule. I am focused on that game. And our kids are too.”

“It’s the most important game in the history of our program because it’s the next one. Period.”

“We’re gonna focus on winning one game at a time and putting a premium on winning. Winning is important. So we’re not gonna sugarcoat it. We came here to win and these kids want to win. We’ve worked our (butt) off and the kids have too. They deserve it. So we just gotta keep earning it.”

Reply 20 comments from Maria Ungaro Greg Ledom Matt Tait Jim Stauffer Rhett Place Gavin Fritton Jmfitz85 Bob Bailey Brad Sherp Kenneth Hillman and 3 others

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

KU catcher Michael Tinsley's quest to become the first Jayhawk since 1997 to finish a season hitting above .400 is over.

Tinsley, who was red hot in the month of April but cooled off in the middle of May, went 1-for-4 in both games of a double header at Oklahoma State on Friday night — both KU losses — and now has just one game remaining in his season given that the losses eliminated KU (20-34-1 overall, 6-16 Big 12) from postseason play.

Tinsley, a junior who is likely to be selected in this summer's MLB draft, was vying to become the seventh Jayhawk since 1971 to accomplish the magical feat of eclipsing the .400 mark in a single season.

As it stands, he figures to finish with the highest batting average since Brian Heere hit .393 in 2010 and Tony Thompson hit .389 during his triple crown season of 2009. In addition, Tinsley will become the fourth Jayhawk since 1988 to finish a season above .370.

It was a heck of a run and very cool to see him climb above .400 so late in the season. He peaked at .402 on May 8. But his inability to stay there is just further testament to the strong pitching the Big 12 Conference throws out there night in and night out.

Let's take a look, one more time...

Updated Batting Average: .381

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: Doubleheader ---> 1-for-4 in 4-3 road loss and 1-for-4 in 9-2 road loss at Oklahoma State on Tuesday, May 20.

Details: Tinsley managed just one hit in each of KU's Friday losses, but one of those hits was a 2-RBI shot down the left field line. Tinsley did not walk or strikeout in either game and watched his average drop from .386 entering Friday to .381 at the end of the night. He is now 80 for 210 this season, with one game to play. A 4-for-4 showing in today's season finale would push Tinsley back to .393 and make him just the fourth Jayhawk since 1987 to finish above .390. A 3-for-4 effort would land him at .388, while 2-for-4 would result in .383, 1-for-4 would drop him to .379 and a hitless finale would leave him at .374.

Up next: 3 p.m. today at Oklahoma State.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

Rankings place KU football dead last in Big 12 in 6 of 8 position groups

ESPN.com recently wrapped up its annual look at the post-spring position rankings among Big 12 football teams and, to no one’s surprise, Kansas finished at the bottom.

There is good news here, though, KU fans — the Jayhawks did not rank dead last at every position. And let’s face it; it would have been real easy for the Big 12 bloggers at ESPN to pencil in the Jayhawks at 10 each time and move on from there.

Good for them for not taking the lazy approach, something that surely was made particularly more challenging given the fact that, because of the current state of the KU program, those guys aren’t around KU enough to really know what the program looks like top to bottom and inside and out.

The Jayhawks ranked dead last at six of the eight positions ESPN.com examined, all four spots on offense (QB, RB, WR, OL) as well as defensive line and special teams.

The Kansas linebackers, led by returning starters Joe Dineen and Marcquis Roberts, ranked 8th out of 10 and the KU secondary, which features second-team all-Big 12 pick Fish Smithson and a host of young talent, ranked 9th out of 10, giving KU an average ranking of 9.6 over all eight positions.

It’s hard to argue with any of their rankings. As you know, the Big 12 is a dynamic quarterback league and neither Ryan Willis nor Montell Cozart have shown enough to be ranked above any of their counterparts at this point. KU’s running back corps lacks depth and proven talent and the receivers, though talented and packed with potential, remain largely a work in progress.

KU’s offensive line was the worst in the league last season by a long shot and will have to prove that all of that talk we’ve heard about that group getting stronger and making one of the biggest leaps this offseason is warranted.

As has been examined a lot on this site during the past few weeks, KU’s special teams ranked at the bottom of just about every important category in the third phase of the game last year, making its placement at the bottom as easy as any of the rankings in the entire exercise.

I applaud them for giving KU’s linebackers the love they deserve — it wouldn’t surprise me for a second if this group actually performs close to the Top 5 than the bottom when the season plays out — and I also think bumping KU up a spot from dead last to ninth in the secondary was kind given that the secondary features a bunch of young and still unproven bodies.

If there’s one area that could — and I strongly emphasize could here — be wrongly ranked at the bottom, it might be the defensive line. The KU D-Line still has to prove it and has a long way to go, but the addition of a couple of key juco transfers (Isi Holani and DeeIsaac Davis), the growth of edge rushers like Dorance Armstrong, Damani Mosby and Anthony Olobia, and the junkyard dog play of Daniel Wise, Jacky Dezir and D.J. Williams could give KU its best set of run stoppers and pass rushers in the trenches in years.

It should be noted that even if KU’s D-Line makes a jump and delivers a great season, the absolute highest it could probably climb in one year is 8th. Remember, this is the Big 12 and the conference routinely cranks out NFL Draft picks from that position.

Overall, I thought the ESPN.com positional rankings were a fair representation of where KU currently sits and those guys did a nice job of continually pointing out that it looks as if the talent and depth within the KU program is being upgraded, slowly but surely.

Reply 10 comments from Jim Stauffer Bob Bailey Matt Tait Bob Forer Dirk Medema Tommy Gallegos Brad Avery Randy Maxwell Table_rock_jayhawk

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

Junior catcher Michael Tinsley's chase for .400 took a pretty big hit on Tuesday night, when he finished 0-for-3 during the Jayhawks' 7-6 loss at Wichita State.

Tinsley, who has been in a bit of a mini-slump since watching his average climb above .400 in the final game of KU's series with Texas Tech, struck out twice and also scored a run in the loss to the Shockers.

He now will need to finish the season on a major hot streak if he's going to get back above the magic number.

KU, which sits a game and a half behind the Wildcats and Baylor Bears for the eighth and final spot in the conference tourney, now has three conference games remaining in the regular season (Thursday through Saturday at Oklahoma State), giving Tinsley just three more guaranteed games to attempt to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .386

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 0-for-3 in 7-6 road loss at Wichita State on Tuesday, May 17.

Details: Tinsley scored a run in the loss, but also struck out twice during his hard-luck night. As has been the case throughout his recent cool stretch, Tinsley hit a couple of balls right on the sweet spot but also right at WSU defenders. He clearly continues to see the ball well but needs to see the ball start finding some gaps again if he's going to make a run at .400.

Up next: 6:30 p.m. Friday at Oklahoma State.

Reply 2 comments from Steve Corder Jay Scott

Is a new, red, Jayhawk-themed helmet in the works for KU football?

New KU commitment Jay Dineen, a senior-to-be at Free State High, poses with a new-look KU football helmet during a visit to campus before committing to the Jayhawks.

New KU commitment Jay Dineen, a senior-to-be at Free State High, poses with a new-look KU football helmet during a visit to campus before committing to the Jayhawks. by Matt Tait

Recruiting news, be it on the basketball front or the football trail, always seems to drum up serious interest from fans of Kansas University athletics.

And this week certainly has provided plenty of excitement. Second-year KU football coach David Beaty and company landed three oral commitments from athletes in the 2017 recruiting class, including local standout Jay Dineen, the younger brother of current KU linebacker Joe Dineen and a senior-to-be at Free State High in Lawrence.

Wide receivers Kaltuve Williams, of New Orleans, and Reggie Roberson, of Dallas, rounded out the commitments — thus far — bringing KU’s total in the class of 2017 to six, four of which are three-star prospects according to Rivals.com.

While all of the accolades and numbers associated with these players certainly speak for themselves, one of the more subtle moments of the aftermath of their commitments might be just as interesting to KU fans.

A couple of hours after Dineen committed to Kansas on Monday night, his mother, Jodi, a former KU volleyball player herself, posted a photo of Dineen at KU’s Anderson Family Football Complex, presumably during one of his visits to campus.

In it, Dineen is sporting his Free State letter jacket and holding a football helmet that features a wild design representing the Kansas mascot — big blue eye, shiny red sheen, gold facemask.

Could this be the unofficial unveiling of a new KU football helmet for the 2016 season and beyond? It obviously won’t be KU’s permanent helmet, but maybe it’ll be used for one of those throwback or gimmick games, when the team wears something out of the ordinary to get the players and fans fired up and, of course, sell more merchandise.

Over the years I’ve seen a bunch of fan mock ups of what KU’s football helmets should look like. Some have been pretty slick and others have fallen just short of horrendous.

This helmet that Dineen is showing off, at least to me, lies somewhere in between the two and I wouldn’t mind for a second seeing the Jayhawks take the field for a game or two wearing these bad boys.

I tried to get ahold of a couple of people in the football office who might be able to provide more details, but they were out. Beaty and a few others are in Tulsa tonight talking to KU supporters in the Sooner State so it’s possible they were en route as I wrote this.

I'm guessing it's just one of those one or two-of-a-kind helmets they make up for recruiting purposes and won't actually be used on game day. I know KU and pretty much every other major college football program likes to create these types of things to get the recruits jacked up when they come tour campus.

I’ll jump back on here with an update if/when I get some kind of answer. For now, enjoy imagining what 100 of these helmets might look like lining the west sideline at Memorial Stadium.

Reply 11 comments from Jim Burns Josh Galler Doug Roberts Ashtin Meerpohl Bryce Landon Gavin Fritton Maurice King brent flanders Harold Wayne Armen Kurdian and 1 others

Break time: KU basketball irrelevant in NBA Draft lottery for first time since 2009

Think back for a minute, if you will, to the summer of 2009, when Barack Obama was in his first year in the White House, the swine flu was causing a panic throughout the United States, the world said goodbye to Michael Jackson and the Kansas basketball program was irrelevant in the NBA Draft lottery.

That’s right. What has become somewhat of an annual ritual around here in the years since — and several years before it — was almost completely irrelevant during the summer of 2009, when KU fans had absolutely no reason to tune in to the NBA Draft.

Matt Kleinmann and Brennan Bechard were the only seniors on that 2008-09 team, junior Sherron Collins made a no-brainer choice to return to school and sophomore Cole Aldrich and freshmen Makieff and Marcus Morris still were coming into their own as future NBA lottery picks.

That makes this summer the first since that ‘09 draft that KU will not have some kind of presence in the lottery.

I realize that neither Cliff Alexander nor Kelly Oubre wound up being selected in the Draft lottery (Top 14 picks) a year ago, but Oubre was a fringe pick throughout the months leading up to the draft and was included in the lottery in just as many mock drafts as those that had him on the outside looking in. Ultimately, Oubre was drafted 15th by Washington, one spot out of lottery and Alexander went undrafted.

With former Jayhawks Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden, Cheick Diallo and Brannen Greene all eligible, KU figures to have at least a couple of alums drafted in this year’s draft. But none of those names figure to pop in the Top 14 — possibly not even in the first round — thus ending KU’s stretch of six consecutive years of lottery relevance.

During the five-year period from 2010-14, the Jayhawks had a total of eight players drafted in the lottery, including No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 draft.

Only Kentucky, which has had a total of 13 former Wildcats drafted in the past six lotteries — and figures to make that seven straight in June, with Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere both going in the top 10 in most mock drafts — can boast a bigger number and a longer streak.

Go figure.

Bill Self and John Calipari certainly have dominated the draft lottery in recent years, not only by putting players in the pros in that prestigious spot, but also by landing some of the best talent on the recruiting trail year after year.

The Jayhawks may be forced to sit this one out, but you can bet that KU’s time away from the lottery won’t last long. Incoming freshman Josh Jackson already is being touted as the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and, even if Jackson doesn’t live up to that lofty expectation, it’s all but certain that as long as he enters the draft he’ll be selected in the lottery. In addition to Jackson, sophomore-to-be Carlton Bragg certainly could be a lottery pick after the 2016-17 college basketball season if he continues to develop at the rate he has been and shines in his expanded role. And a case could even be made for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to be a lottery pick, should he have a strong junior season.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at some of the other regulars in the draft lottery from 2009-15. As you can see, Self and the Jayhawks are right there at the top of the list, just as they are in so many other relevant college basketball categories.

As for this year and the 2016 NBA Draft, don’t worry too much about the Jayhawks not being represented. With the Philadelphia 76ers getting the No. 1 overall pick — the order was determined Tuesday night — you can bet former KU big man Joel Embiid, he of Twitter fame and mastery, will have plenty to say about what his team will do and who his team will pick.

School Total Lottery Picks 2009-15 Longest Streak
Kentucky 13 6 years
Kansas 8 5 years
Duke 6 2 years
North Carolina 5 2 years
Syracuse 4 2 years
UConn 4 2 years
Arizona 3 2 years
Indiana 3 2 years
Louisville 2 1 year
Ohio State 2 1 year
Texas 2 1 year
Reply 3 comments from Jerry Walker Len Shaffer Jay Scott

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

One day after going hitless for just the second time since April 5, KU catcher Michael Tinsley returned to the hit column in KU's series finale at Kansas State.

Tinsley, who actually made four plate appearances in Sunday's 8-5, rubber-match loss to the Wildcats, recorded an RBI sacrifice fly in the third inning to give KU a 4-0 lead. He also scored a run in the loss.

Tinsley was back behind the plate after being removed from Saturday's lopsided 12-2 loss late in the game in order to give the Jayhawks' top hitter a little extra rest.

KU, which fell a game and a half behind the Wildcats and Baylor Bears for the eighth and final spot in the conference tourney, now has three conference games remaining in the regular season (Thursday through Saturday at Oklahoma State) and a single non-conference match-up with Wichita State, giving Tinsley four more guaranteed games to attempt to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .392

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 1-for-3 in 8-5 road loss at K-State on Sunday, May 15.

Details: Tinsley's up and down day at the plate included a walk in the first inning on a full count, the RBI sac fly in the third, a fly-out to center field in the fifth and a bunt single on the first pitch of his at-bat in the Top of the 7th inning. Later, with the leadoff batter reaching first base after a walk in the Top of the 9th with KU trailing 8-5, Tinsley grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to all but put an end to KU's hopes of a late rally. From here, if Tinsley were to average four at-bats per game during the final four games of KU's regular season, he would need to record eight or more hits down the stretch to bring his average back above .400.

Up next: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Wichita State.

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Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s quest to finish the season above .400 took a blow and a break on Saturday in Manhattan.

Tinsley, who was removed late in the game for some extra rest heading into Sunday’s huge series finale, was part of a KU offense that struggled for most of the night in a 12-2 loss at Kansas State.

Outside of freshman outfielder Devin Foyle, who had three of KU’s six hits in the game, the Jayhawks were shut down and never really threatened to pick up a victory that would have been both huge for the weekend and the Jayhawks’ chances for qualifying for the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

KU, which fell back to a half game behind the Wildcats for the eighth and final spot in the conference tourney, now has four conference games remaining in the regular season and one match-up with Wichita State, giving Tinsley five more guaranteed games to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .393

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 0-for-3 in 12-2 road loss at K-State on Saturday, May 14.

Details: The Wildcats held Tinsley hitless for just the 10th time all season and only the second time since April 5. He grounded out twice and flied out once before being replaced behind the plate by sophomore Tanner Gragg. Tinsley now needs a 3-for-4 effort in today’s series finale to pull his average back up to .400.

Up next: Game 3 of the Sunflower Showdown, 1 p.m. today at Kansas State.

Reply

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

The Kansas baseball team picked up a huuuuuuge Game 1 victory at Kansas State on Friday night, riding the strong pitching of senior ace Ben Krauth to victory.

Junior catcher Michael Tinsley managed one hit in four official at-bats and helped the KU offense do just enough to bring home the victory.

The win improved KU to 6-12 in Big 12 play and dropped the Wildcats to 6-13, giving Kansas a half-game lead in the race for the final spot in the Big 12 tournament later this month.

KU now has five conference games remaining in the regular season and one match-up with Wichita State, giving Tinsley six more guaranteed games to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .399

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 1-for-4 in 4-1 road win at K-State on Friday, May 13.

Details: KU's red-hot catcher stepped into the box five times in the victory over K-State and hit the ball hard three times but managed just one hit. As is expected when a player is swinging the bat as well as Tinsley has been, he was intentionally walked in the 7th inning, a move that helped produce a two-run 7th for the Jayhawks that padded their lead to 4-1. His lone hit came in the fifth when he singled through the right side on a 1-2 count to drive in Joe Moroney.

Up next: Game 2 of the Sunflower Showdown, 6:30 p.m. tonight at Kansas State.

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