Chemistry is Key

"I would describe this team as new because of all the transfers," explained Hill as the 22 newcomers are the most he's had since 2005 (25), his second season at K-State. "We have more transfers than we've had in a while in this program. We need them to step up and speed up their progress a little, but everyone is excited to get started."
Excited and ready to play again, this fresh, new Wildcat squad opens the 2015 season at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, today with a matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes at 2 p.m. (CT).
"We're really exited," senior outfielder Max Brown said earlier this week. "We have a great team this season with good team chemistry. We've worked hard all fall, so everyone is just itching to start playing other teams. We've been scrimmaging each other for what seems like forever, so we're just excited to get down to Florida and get this thing going."
Despite the newness around the clubhouse, the Bat Cats have taken it upon themselves to build team chemistry on and off the field. The result? A close bond between players like the team has not seen in quite some time. 
"When you have a turnaround like that with a bunch of guys leaving and you have so many new guys, the only place to start is to start building team chemistry again," explained senior first baseman Shane Conlon. "With 40 guys coming in during the fall and no one really knowing each other, you have to take a step to (build chemistry) or else it can turn into the situations we've had in the past. Building team chemistry was our No. 1 goal."
The word 'chemistry' was like a buzzword among the Wildcat upperclassmen. Since fall camp, the group has been serious about building a close-knit bond with their teammates. Whether it's teaching and working with the new guys at practices, hanging out together as often as they can off the field or just simply sparking up conversations, the effort has been nothing but positive. 
"This is a great, great group of guys with great team chemistry; everybody is excited to get on the field," said redshirt junior pitcher Nate Williams. "We really wanted to come together as a team this year because it has made such a difference in the past when you have a tight-knit group of guys. When you build that team chemistry, it makes winning so much easier because you're playing as one. There's just good energy right now for the team."
Though the chemistry is there and the energy is high, for Hill, there is still a bit of an unknown. While he said he likes what he has seen in practice situations, when the time comes face another team, it's a whole new ballgame. 
"There's some nervous energy because, from the coaching staff, I don't know what we're going to get," explained Hill. "To be honest with you, I don't know how these guys are going to respond. When you have an experienced group, you kind of know what to expect. But from this group, I'm just not sure what to expect. We're just trying to get back to the basics and establish a style of play.
"It's kind of like starting over," continued Hill. "We've really had to get in the teaching aspect. It's all new people all around. In the past, we relied on our returning players to grab the guy that's playing next to or below him and work with him, but now we've really had to jump in. For us as a coaching staff, to get back in there, that brings some newness to the table."
Only time will tell how this year's Wildcat squad will fare on the field, however as the group continues to grow closer and work together for a common goal, the sky is the limit for the "new" group of Wildcats.
"We're taking the game moment by moment, pitch by pitch," said senior infielder Carter Yagi. "I think last year we focused on the big picture and making it to Omaha instead of taking it a game at a time. Our opener is against Iowa. We're focusing on Iowa right now. We want to win the Big 12, but we're not looking that far forward right now. I think we're doing a good job of just living in the moment."
Following today's game against Iowa, the Wildcats will take on Pittsburgh at 10 a.m. (CT) tomorrow followed by a matchup against George Mason at 2 p.m. (CT). The team will close out the Snowbird Classic with a game against Saint Louis on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. (CT).
For complete game notes about this weekend's Snowbird Classic, please click here
When asked which newcomer stood out the most during fall and preseason training, the response among the Wildcat players and Coach Hill was unanimous: Tyler Wolfe.
A junior shortstop from Maple Plain, Minnesota, Wolfe comes to K-State after spending two seasons at Des Moines Area Community College where he earned NJCAA Region XI Second Team and all-conference honors in 2014 after batting .307 (55-for-179) with seven doubles, one triple and two home runs. He had 31 RBIs and a .384 on-base percentage in his 58 games, starting every game for the Bears in 2014. 
Here is what teammates and Coach Hill had to say about the talented, hard-working newcomer: 
Nate Williams: "Tyler Wolfe is just an extremely good baseball player. He's up here every day doing extra work. He's just a great leader. He does everything right on and off the field and is exactly what you're looking for in a guy coming into this program."
Max Brown: "He's made really big strides since the fall. He's a great kid all around."
Coach Hill: "He kind of continues a long line of shortstops that we have had. Knock on wood, but just about every shortstop we've had since I've been here has been drafted. I think he should continue that. He's a plus defender; he's still working on and developing his swing, but he's a plus defender and we've been really, really impressed with him."
Coming off a season in which it had the highest ERA in the Big 12, the K-State pitching staff has retooled for 2015 with 10 new arms that will throw alongside five returners.
For a complete look at the 2015 Wildcat pitchers, please click here.
K-State Athletics officials have announced single-game tickets for the 2015 baseball season will go on sale starting Monday, and several exciting promotions are in store for Wildcat fans of all ages at Tointon Family Stadium.
To continue reading about this year's ticketing options and to view a full list of 2015 Bat Cat promotions, please click here

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