A little over a week ago, Kansas State claimed its first Big 12 regular-season baseball championship and its first conference crown in the sport in 80 years. The Wildcats were rewarded for their exceptional achievement on the diamond this spring by being named one of the regional venues for the start of the NCAA Championship later this week.
This will be the first time in Kansas State history that the 2013 Big 12 champs will host a regional in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Kansas State is 24-7 this seasons in games played at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.
The Wildcats (41-17) are one of three Big 12 teams that made this years NCAA postseason field. Big 12 Tournament champion Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, runner-up to K-State in the league standings, are the other two teams that will represent the conference in the NCAA Championship.
Kansas (34-25), which improved by seven games in Big 12 games over a year ago and made it all the way to the Big 12 Championship final last weekend before losing to Oklahoma, was hopeful of being the fourth Big 12 school to receive a bid to this year’s NCAA Baseball tourney, but was left out of the 64-team Championship field.
While the Wildcats play host to Arkansas (37-20), out of the Southeastern Conference, Wichita State (39-26) and Bryant (44-16-1), Oklahoma heads to the Blacksburg (Va.) Regional, where the Sooners (40-19) are the No. 2 seed. Oklahoma State will play in Louisville, where the Cowboys are the three seed.
The first opponent for Kansas State in its host regional will be in-state rival Wichita State, which the Wildcats defeated twice previously this season. The Shockers, however, hold a 51-33 advantage in the all-time series between the two schoold from the Sunflower State. This will be K-State’s fourth appearance in NCAA postseason play, all in the past five years.
“I am very proud of this team and what they have accomplished this year,” coach Brad Hill said after learning that his team will be hosting an NCAA Regional. “I am extremly happy that we are able to bring an NCAA Regional to the K-State and Manhattan communities. We have worked extremely hard to reward our great fan base, alumni and university by hosting a regional.”
Oklahoma will open regional play on Friday against Coastal Carolina (37-21). That contest will be preceded by the game between host Virginia Tech (38-20) and Connecticut (34-26). This will be OU’s 36th NCAA appearance in baseball. The Sooners have an overall tournament record of 80-70 in those 35 previous appearances, and have advanced to the super-regional round in two of the last three years.
Oklahoma State (40-19) will go up against Miami (Fla.) (36-23), the two seed in the Louisville Regional, in its opening game on Friday. Louisville is matched against Bowling Green (24-29) in the other opening-round round game in that regional. The Cowboys have had more NCAA baseball appearances (39) than any of the three Big 12 teams in this year’s tournament.
The winners of the 16 double-elimination regional tournaments will advance to the super-regionals next weekend, and those eight winners will make up the field for the 2013 College World Series in Omaha, beginning June 15.