Notes: Wildcats Open 2016 Season at UC Riverside

SERIES PREVIEW
FEB 19-22, 2016

Riverside Sports Complex
Riverside, CA

NR
K-STATE
WILDCATS
0-0 (0-0 Big 12)
ROSTER | STATS | SCHEDULE

NR
UC RIVERSIDE
HIGHLANDERS
0-0 (0-0 Big West)
ROSTER | STATS | SCHEDULE

GM 1: FRI FEB 19, 6 pm (PT)
TV: None
GAME STARTERS:

KST: RHP COREY FISCHER (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
UCR: LHP AUSTIN SODDERS (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Opening Day
GM 2: SAT FEB 20, 1 pm (PT)
TV: None
GAME STARTERS:

KST: LHP PARKER RIGLER (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
UCR: RHP ANGEL LANDAZURI (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

GM 3: SUN FEB 21, 1 pm (PT)
TV: None
GAME STARTERS:

KST: RHP LEVI MaVORHIS (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
UCR: RHP RICHARD DELGADO (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

GM 4: MON FEB 22, 6 pm (PT)
TV: None
GAME STARTERS:

KST: RHP COLTON KALMUS (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
UCR: TBD

AT THE PLATE
Entering its 116th all-time season, K-State baseball will open the 2016 campaign with an 8-game, 11-day road trip to California and Arizona ... The Wildcats start the season at UC Riverside for a 4-game set February 19-22 ... It marks the second time in the last 3 years that K-State begins its season in California (2014, at Cal Poly) ... The Wildcats return 14 letterwinners from last  year’s 27-30 team that finished sixth in the Big 12 (10-14) ... Along with the returners, 17 newcomers (12 freshmen) and one redshirt freshman make up the 32-man roster ... K-State is led by 13th-year head coach Brad Hill, who is 10th among active Division I coaches in career winning percentage at four-year schools (.672; 808-394-3).

LAST TIME OUT
K-State was 27-30 in 2015, including a 10-14 mark in Big 12 play and a 1-2 showing at the Big 12 Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma ... According to WarrenNolan.com, the Wildcats had the 44th-toughest schedule in Division I while D1Baseball.com ranked their schedule 42nd-toughest ... The Wildcats picked up 4 wins against Top-25 opponents, their most in a campaign since 2011 (7) ... Of K-State’s 26 opponents, 11 were ranked in the nation’s Top-25 polls at least once, including 5 non-conference foes.

INSIDE THE SERIES
K-State and UC Riverside have previously met once: nearly 45 years ago when the Wildcats fell to the Highlanders, 4-3, on March 27, 1971 in Riverside ... The contest was a part of the Riverside National Tournament, an in-season competition in which K-State had a 3-4 record (UC Riverside: 6-1) ... UC Riverside represents K-State’s first Big West opponent since 2014 when the Wildcats faced Cal Poly (0-3) and UC Davis (0-1) ... K-State is 6-12 all-time against the Big West (Last win: CAL POLY, 3/9/13).

SEASON OPENERS
K-State is 67-39 (.632) in season openers, including 8-4 under head coach Brad Hill (no results for 1897-1905) ... The Wildcats have won 6 of their last 7 season openers, including a 5-4 win over Iowa last year in Port Charlotte, Florida ... This is the 13th straight season K-State opens its season on the road.

SENIOR CENTER
The Wildcat roster features 8 seniors, the program’s most in a season since 2006 when it also had 8 ... Of the 8 seniors, 2 (Clayton Dalrymple, Levi MaVorhis) have been with the program since their freshman seasons in 2013 - which was when the Wildcats won the Big 12 title ... The other 6 seniors (Lucas Benenati, Brandon Erickson, Corey Fischer, Danny Krause, Tyler Moore, Tyler Wolfe) are in their second years at K-State after transferring from junior college ... The 2006 Wildcats, playing under head coach Brad Hill in his third year, went 31-20-2 (8-17-2 Big 12) and started the year 17-1 – their best start in program history.

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES
In the form of its 14 returners, K-State brings back more than 50% of its offensive production in several main categories: 57% of its hits, 58% doubles, 63% home runs, 54% RBI, 57% stolen bases and 53% walks ... Among its pitching staff, which welcomes back 7 arms, the Wildcats have back 63% of their wins, 71% saves, 59% innings pitched and 53% strikeouts.

THE PITCH
Last year’s pitching staff turned in one of the program’s best team ERAs in the aluminum bat era (since 1977) as the Wildcats’ 4.27 mark was fifth-best over the last 38 years ... It also marked the third time over the last 5 years that K-State had a team ERA of 4.27 or lower ... In the first 33 years of the aluminum bat era (1977-2010), K-State had an ERA of 4.27 or lower just twice (2005, 2006).

FROM THE ‘PEN
A key piece to the strong team ERA for K-State in 2015 was its bullpen … K-State’s bullpen ERA last year (3.84) was its lowest since 2013 (3.40) … The bullpen ERA was improved by nearly two runs from 2014 when the Wildcats had a 5.60 ERA ... Of the 7 relievers who made 10+ appearances, 5 return (Lucas Benenati, Brandon Erickson, Corey Fischer, Jordan Floyd, Bryce Ward) ... The ‘pen also had a 3.48 ERA in Big 12 play last year, with this year’s returners (Benenati, Erickson, Fischer, Floyd, Levi MaVorhis, Ward, Tyler Wolfe) posting a 3.28 mark in their combined 48 appearances.

LEADERS RETURN
For the fourth time in the last 5 seasons, K-State returns at least one of its top hitters from either overall and conference-only games ... Tyler Moore (.302) and Tyler Wolfe (.366) paced the Wildcats in overall and Big 12 games, respectively, in 2015 ... The last time the Wildcats returned its top hitter from both overall and Big 12 contests was 2014 (Austin Fisher) ... K-State also returned its top batters from overall and Big 12 games in 2013 (overall: Jared King; Big 12: Jon Davis) ... Last year, Moore became the first K-State catcher to lead the team in hitting since Jeff Turtle in 1987 ... Wolfe, meanwhile, was the first Wildcat newcomer to pace the team in conference hitting since Davis in 2012.

K-State’s Returning Top Hitters (since 2012)
2016: Tyler Moore (overall); Tyler Wolfe (Big 12)
2015: N/A
2014: Austin Fisher (overall and Big 12)
2013: Jared King (overall); Jon Davis (Big 12)
2012: Jared King (Big 12)

WOLFE ON-BASE STREAK
Tyler Wolfe ended the 2015 season on a 22-game on-base streak, tied for the longest by a Wildcat last year (Shane Conlon) … Wolfe had a .475 OBP during the stretch, tallying 28 hits, 18 walks and 2 hit by pitches over 101 plate appearances … The shortstop also hit .350 (28-for-80) as he was the only Wildcat to hit higher than .300 over the team’s final 22 contests … The last time a Wildcat had an on-base streak longer than 22 games was Ross Kivett in 2014 (25 games).

DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING
K-State made just 55 errors over the course of last year’s 57-game season, which were the fewest ever in a season in program history ... The previous program-low was 56 set in 2012 over 58 games ... The Wildcats’ .975 fielding percentage is the second-best in program history, trailing the .976 clip set in 2012 ... K-State has registered a fielding percentage .970 or higher in 9 of the last 10 seasons ... In Big 12-only games, the Wildcats had the best fielding percentage (.979) while their 19 errors were tied for the fewest.

FOR STARTERS
Opening Day starting pitcher Corey Fischer is the ninth different season-opening hurler for K-State since 2008 ... Sunday’s starter, Levi MaVorhis, was the Opening Day starter in 2014.

K-State Opening Day Starting Pitchers (since 2007)
2015: Nate Griep (RHP)
2014: Levi MaVorhis (RHP)
2013: Nate Williams (RHP)
2012: Matt Applegate (RHP)
2011: Kyle Hunter (LHP)
2010: Ryan Daniel (RHP)
2009: A.J. Morris (RHP)
2008: Brad Hutt (RHP)
2007: Hutt (RHP)