Anda di halaman 1dari 1

SPORTS

14

KANSAN.COM

Which states KU baseball players are from

1
3

1
3

10

3
1

MAP BY FREE VECTORMAPS.COM

Price strengthens KU baseball


through hands-on recruiting
NICK GEIDNER
@nickgeidner

One of the most important


if not the most important
aspects of a robust college
athletic program is recruiting.
As players age and move on
to higher levels, the only way
for a program to survive is by
bringing in newer and younger
talent year after year.
Assistant coach and head of
recruiting Ritchie Price has a
unusual style of bringing new
talent to the Kansas baseball
program. He focuses heavily
on paying his recruits the attention they need and sells all
that Kansas has to offer when
those recruits come to visit.
That style has plenty of people talking, and he's probably
earned that credential. These
days, it's hard to look at Kansas' recruiting without seeing
the massive fingerprints that
Ritchie has left on the team.
I have to pay Ritchie a great
compliment; he has become
one of the best young recruiters in the country, coach Ritch
Price said of his son in a September news release. I honestly believe the 2015 class is
one of the best I have ever been
associated with in my 22 years
at the Division I level.
In 2013, Ritchie went out
of his way to recruit a player
who would go on to be a crucial player on the team's 2015
squad: now-sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin.
Last season, McLaughlin
had a batting average of .293,
which ranked fourth on the
team. McLaughlin also had
a fielding percentage of .947,
which placed him among the
top infielders on the team.
Ritchie flew to California
three separate times to watch
McLaughlin play and always
kept in contact with him,
which is one of the reasons the
shortstop is at Kansas today.
It was just the communication and the effort he put
in to come watch me play,
McLaughlin said of Ritchie's
recruiting tactics. He flew
down to San Diego twice to
see me play, [and] he flew in
to San Jose to watch me play.
The feeling of being wanted is
huge, obviously, rather than

just getting the routine emails


of, Hey, come to our camp.
Of the 35 active players on the
2015 roster, 28 of them or 80
percent are from outside the
state of Kansas. Each of those
are guys Ritchie and the rest
of the Kansas recruiting staff
had to leave the state of Kansas
and invest time and money in
order to recruit. Perhaps more
importantly, that's 80 percent
of the active roster that chose
to come to Kansas of all places.
We believe that Kansas is
a place that if we can get you
here to make the visit [...] show
you the campus, the University, the college town and the
facilities, Ritchie said. We've
got a really good chance to
land you.

Its completely evident how much better


our players have gotten since he joined our
staff, and I give him full
credit for that.
RITCH PRICE
Head Coach

Sometimes, the campus or


town isn't always enough to
fully land a player. The recruit needs to feel comfortable
and at home when visiting a
school. Ritchie has an unorthodox way of doing that, and it
starts in the clubhouse.
We feel like we have really
good kids on our team and a
really good clubhouse chemistry-wise, Ritchie said. "The
more that our recruits interact
with the entire team, the more
they'll feel the family atmosphere we have here at KU.
Another way Ritchie is a successful recruiter is how well he
can relate to players.
Ritchie began his collegiate
coaching career at South Dakota, where he had the title of
the youngest head coach at the
Division I level. He believes his
young age played an important
factor in the way he was able to
relate to the players.
I think the situation [being
the youngest head coach] was
good because I could really relate to them, Richie said about

his time at South Dakota. I


was able to sell the opportunity
to play for a young coach that's
going to be able to relate to you
and have fun. At a school that
didn't have a lot to sell to kids,
that was something that we
were really able to lean on.
When Ritchie made the decision to take the assistant
coaching job at Kansas in
2011, he continued to use his
young age to relate to players,
but he also was able to use the
fact that he was a former player for Kansas, graduating back
in 2007.
During his time as a player at
Kansas, Ritchie set 24 school
records, was a four-year starter at shortstop, where he was
named top shortstop in the
Big 12 in 2004, was honored
with the status of team captain
in both 2005 and 2006 and
helped lead Kansas to its first
Big 12 championship in program history.
McLaughlin explained how
much having Ritchie as a
coach helped him make the
transition onto the team in his
first season last year.
[Ritchie] was probably the
best shortstop that's ever
played here, McLaughlin said.
Playing shortstop for part of
the time last year and hopefully this next year, I would
try to pick his mind as best as
possible and try to do some of
the things that he did and how
he had so much success here.
I would ask him a lot of questions, and he would recognize
when players really want to get
better and, you know, he'll take
them under his wing and really
try to improve them.
Ritchie doesn't recruit just
anybody either. During his
time on staff at Kansas, he has
managed to sign three of the
top six prep players in the state
of Kansas and two of the top
five prep players in the state
of Nevada, including the No.
1 left-handed pitcher and the
No. 6 overall player. And that's
not including all the talent he
recruited from the rest of the
country in states such as California, Hawaii, Colorado and
Texas, to name a few.
While a lot of the time Ritchie
spends as a coach at Kansas
focuses on recruiting, he also
works heavily with the team's

offense and the team's infielders.


Ritchie finished his college
career with a batting average
of .305 and still holds the Kansas record for most career hits
(312). He uses the knowledge
he has to teach his players
some of the same techniques.
In 2014, Ritchie led the Jayhawk offense to a team batting
average of .283, which helped
the team reach the NCAA
tournament for the fifth time
in school history.
The 2015 Kansas baseball
team began its fall practices
on Sept. 22. Trying to move
forward from its disappointing 23-32 end to last season,
Kansas is looking forward to
this upcoming spring, where
coach Ritch will turn to Ritchie
to continue to work with the
players on getting to where
they need to be.
The team aims to get back to
the NCAA tournament, which
it fell short of last season. And
while that task may be tall,
Ritch seems to have full confidence in his son's ability to get
their players where they need
to be.
It's completely evident how
much better our players have
gotten since he joined our
staff, he said, and I give him
full credit for that.
Edited by Dani Malakoff

ZOE LARSON/KANSAN

Assistant coach and head of recruiting Ritchie Price.