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KU Baseball Star Emerging

By Sam Lance

A young Kansas baseball player has taken major steps this season to become an effective player and leader for the Jayhawks. Sophomore shortstop Maui Ahuna, who is regarded as a top prospect for next year’s MLB draft, has been on fire to start the season. He’s propelled KU to an 8-10 record to this point as well. 

Ahuna usually hits third in the lineup for the Jayhawks, and for good reason. KU head baseball coach Ritch Price said Ahuna’s work in the offseason has led to more power at the plate for the sophomore. 

“He’s really grown and really matured from a year ago,” Price said. “He’s improved his baseball IQ. His work ethic is much better than it was a year ago when he got here. He’s worked hard in the room.”  

The improvements Ahuna has made have shown on the field so far this season. Entering Wednesday, Ahuna was leading the team in all three major offensive categories with a .463 batting average, three home runs and 19 runs batted in. Ahuna has 10 more hits than anyone else on the team and has a slugging percentage of .776. 

This is what Ahuna had to say when I asked what makes him such an effective and electric shortstop for the Jayhawks. 

“I’m going to be honest, I’m very smooth,” Ahuna said with a chuckle. “But suave, it’s called suave. Be smooth. Smooth is quick, quick is smooth, you know?” 

As far as Ahuna’s leadership, the sophomore said he and fellow sophomore infielder Tavian Josenberger have to step up. Ahuna added when they play well, the team usually follows and performs. Price said Ahuna is still growing into this new leadership role. 

“You have to learn the game within the game at this level,” Price said. “His skillset is definitely big time and now he’s starting to make progress with the mental side of the game as well.” 

Ahuna will have an opportunity to improve on his hot start with the Jayhawks on Wednesday against Wichita State. KU will then take on Oklahoma State for a weekend series on Friday through Sunday.