For the first time since 2009 Wichita State is back in the NCAA baseball tournament. For the first time in 80 years, Kansas State won the Big 12 conference regular season title AND they're hosting their first ever regional. Every single player on Wichita State's team is playing in his first NCAA baseball tournament. This is Bryant University's first year to be eligible for the tournament and they made it! Oh and I ate at Coco Bolo's tonight in Aggieville. There are a ton of firsts happening this weekend in Manhattan!
But there are also plenty of repeats. Gene Stephenson is coaching his 28th team to make the NCAA tournament. Arkansas is looking for its third College World Series appearance in the last 10 years. Bryant head coach Steve Owens is once again coaching against Wichita State and Arkansas in a regional. That last happened in 2004 when Owens was coaching LeMoyne. I'm pretty sure the Shocker faithful don't want a repeat of that regional.
I know that the Shockers definitely don't want a repeat of what's already happened twice this year. Kansas State swept the Shockers in the regular season and on Friday afternoon the Shocks are hoping the old adage of 'it's hard to beat the same team three times in the same season' holds true.
Cale Elam gets the start against Levi MaVorhis. Elam threw a gem against Illinois State in the Valley championship game and MaVorhis has been a pleasant freshman surprise for the Wildcats' Brad Hill. Bryant will also be throwing their ace in the first game. Arkansas is the only team going with their number two guy in round one.
Maybe that shows overconfidence on Arkansas' part or maybe it just proves how seriously Kansas State, the top seed, is taking fourth seed Wichita State. KState's Ross Kivet said today that Wichita State is hands down, 'the best four seed in the tournament.'
Like Tyler Baker said in Wednesday's press conferences, I'm not going to try and over think it; I'm gonna wait it out, see who's got what going on Friday afternoon. Maybe for the first time in my 5 years in Wichita I'll see the Shocker baseball team win a game in the NCAA tournament. Just to clarify, one of my first days in Wichita was the day that the Shockers lost the super regional to Florida State. I was running on the treadmill watching. And so you know, I didn't bring my running shoes to Manhattan.