Kansas Jayhawks baseball kicks off campaign against UIC in season-opening battle

Kansas baseball begins it season tonight.

Kansas' right fielder Luke Leto (9) runs to home plate after hitting a home run against Texas Tech
Kansas' right fielder Luke Leto (9) runs to home plate after hitting a home run against Texas Tech / Annie Rice/Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY

After a rebuilding season that saw Kansas baseball finish 25-32 under first-year skipper Dan Fitzgerald, the Jayhawks look to kick off the year with a victory against UIC at 6:30 p.m. CT.

The Jayhawks have higher expectations heading into this season, finishing eighth out of 13 in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll. TCU, Oklahoma State, and Texas lead the poll, while four teams in the conference landed in the D1Baseball.com Top 25.

Kansas returns standout offensive players such as Kodey Shojinaga and Janson Reeder, who made the Preseason All-Big 12 team. Shojinaga was terrific during his freshman year, batting for a .378 average with 17 extra-base hits, 41 runs, and a team-leading .947 OPS. Reeder finished second on the team with 12 home runs and led the team with a .558 slugging percentage.

Reese Dutton is the probable starter for Kansas, a transfer from USC Upstate that started 15 games in 2023. He threw for a 3.29 ERA in 90 1/3 innings, striking out 102 batters. Dutton figures to be the ace of the staff with Dominic Voegele and Patrick Steitz behind him.

UIC finished 28-25 last season with a 17-16 record in league play in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Flames were ranked eighth in the MVC's preseason poll and will throw out Dillon Schueler as their starter.

The two teams will be playing a three-game set from Feb. 16-18 on a neutral site. All three are being played on Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas. Then, Kansas will take on Texas A&M Corpus Christi before beginning the Karbach Round Rock Classic three days later.

While the initial scheduled time for the game was 2:00 p.m. CT, inclement weather pushed the start back several hours. Fans can watch the contest on FloBaseball or listen to it on Jayhawk Radio Network.