Coverage from The Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com
Video interview with Gene Stephenson, Brad Hill and Johnny Coy
Five things to watch
- Shocker fans can count on a solid effort from starter Cale Elam on Friday (if not, everything else is meaningless). More interesting will be how A.J. Ladwig and Garrett Brummett (if needed) do against top competition. Their improvement over the past month played a major role in WSU’s success. It wasn’t a good year for hitters in the Missouri Valley Conference. If Ladwig and Brummett can handle regional-caliber lineups, it’s a good sign for this weekend and the future.
- Kansas State baseball is in new territory in the spotlight. On Thursday, coach Brad Hill praised his administration for allowing him and his players to focus on baseball while it handled the details of hosting. How will the attention, expectations and pressure affect the Wildcats? The home crowd could lift them, or it could distract them.
- The Razorbacks expected to host one of the 16-team regionals. Playing on the road could galvanize the Hogs, or set them up for failure.
- Arkansas’ pitching vs. Wildcat hitting appears to be the story of the regional. Arkansas Ryne Stanek, its All-SEC right-hander, will start Saturday, following the same rotation coach Dave Van Horn used all season. Stanek’s looming presence appears to give Arkansas a significant edge.
- WSU’s offense improved over the final five games of the MVC Tournament. Most notably, the Shockers cut down on strikeouts and hit with some extra-base power. Some of that success came against depleted pitching staffs as the tournament wore on. Did the Shockers find a new gear, or did they merely take advantage of the situation?