Baseball players look to redeem themselves against K-State
- Apr. 24, 2012
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Last season, the Kansas State Wildcats ended the Jayhawks’ baseball season with a three-game sweep, eliminating Kansas from Big 12 tournament contention.
The Jayhawks (16-25, 4-11 Big 12) will get their first chance at payback this week as they open a four-game homestand against the Wildcats Wednesday.
Wednesday night is K-State’s only scheduled visit to Lawrence this season, and the game will not count toward Big 12 standings. Kansas’ conference series at K-State is May 11, but a non-conference match-up gives both fan bases a preview of the rivalry. Even though this game lacks the normal implications of Big 12 play, the team sees Wednesday as a chance to make the opening statement.
“They’re probably still thinking about last year and how well they did,” senior catcher James Stanfield said. “I know this isn’t a conference game, but this will be a heads-up to them. We’ll get to show them what we will be bringing come conference play.”
Stanfield (.300 average) is coming off a two-for-eight weekend at No. 23 Texas, but his numbers are more indicative of the Texas’ defensive prowess in the middle infield rather than a hitting slump. Stanfield hit a number of hard-hit balls up the middle, but Texas’ shortstop-second base combination of Jordan Etier and Brooks Marlow covered the ground. Regardless, one play even landed Stanfield a spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 – Kansas baseball’s first-ever appearance on the ESPN segment.
“That made James a national star for an evening,” coach Ritch Price said.
Freshman pitcher Drew Morovick is slated to start against the Wildcats. Morovick struggled with maintaining his command early in the season, but he has shown improvement as of late. He threw five shutout innings against the University of Saint Mary to improve his season record to 3-1. Coming from Hemet, Calif., Morovick is new to the K-State rivalry, but he doesn’t expect that it will take long to get acclimated to the series’ intensity.
“As a freshman, I’m not exactly sure about the rivalry, but I’m excited to get out there,” Morovick said. “I kind of know rivalries, so I think I’ll know what to expect.”
Morovick is making his first start of the season against a Big 12-caliber opponent, and he will need to replicate the command of his previous two outings to be successful against the Wildcats.
“He’s going to have to command the fastball down in the zone and use both sides of the plate,” Price said. “He also needs to continue the improvement of his breaking ball. When he throws it with some depth, it can really be a plus pitch for him. He gets in trouble when he leaves it up on the zone.”
Kansas and K-State have a combined 20 players from Kansas, which could make for a competitive evening at Hoglund Ballpark. With Missouri heading to the Southeastern Conference next season, Price expects to see the rivalry’s emphasis shift toward K-State.
“We’ve always been K-State’s rival, but for KU athletes, it’s always been about Missouri,” Price said. “With Missouri leaving, our rivalry will only be directed towards the Wildcats.”
Edited by Taylor Lewis