SE: K-State Baseball Reports for 2016 Season
It’s a new year, a new season, and K-State baseball is ready to get back to work.
With its first road trip of the year just around the corner – Feb. 19-28 at UC Riverside and against Oregon State and Utah in the Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge held in Surprise, Arizona – the Wildcat baseball squad will hold its first official team practice of the 2016 season on Friday afternoon.
“We have a great mindset heading into the season,” said senior right-handed pitcher Corey Fischer. “I feel like we’re ready to go. We had a really strong fall, so now we’re just putting on the finishing touches and really focusing on coming together as a team.”
K-State head coach Brad Hill said he likes the team’s mentality and focus heading into the 2016 season, and, though he hasn’t worked with his team much since its fall camp, he was happy to see that each and every one of them took it upon themselves to stay in shape during the winter months.
“Right now for me, everything is about conditioning and when our guys came back everybody passed the conditioning test,” said Hill. “That’s a huge positive. Everybody passing on the first try, that hasn’t happened in a few years, so that’s always a good, good sign.”
The team credits ability to stay focused and stay in shape during the winter months largely in part to its hard-working mentality.
“We have a blue-collar mentality; we’re going to work harder than everyone else, that’s our goal,” said senior shortstop Tyler Wolfe. “Working hard is our practice plan this year, it’s our conditioning plan. We’re going to try and work our tail ends off and prove people wrong by being more aggressive and outplaying them.”
This year’s Wildcat baseball team features 13 freshmen, two sophomores, nine juniors and eight seniors, the largest senior class for the program since 2006. While there are more seniors than usual on the roster, there are also quite a few freshmen who will be looked upon to make an impact early on.
“Our freshmen are going to have to play, some of them are going to have to play a lot and contribute for us to be successful this year,” explained Hill. “But our older guys have done a pretty good job so far of taking the younger guys under their wing and showing them how to go about their business. They’ve been very positive with them and are trying to be a good example from a preparation standpoint. This game is all about preparation and how you go about preparing, and I think our older guys do a pretty good job with that.”
K-State enters the 2016 season coming off of a campaign where it went 27-30 overall (10-14 in Big 12 play). Despite capping off its season with a close, 3-1 loss to Oklahoma at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship, K-State was playing some of its best baseball at the end of the season. The Wildcats hope to carry that momentum into this upcoming year.
“I hope we take the confidence we finished last season with us into this season,” said Hill. “We played with a lot of confidence and were more comfortable in the last five weeks of the (2015) season. It took us some time to get there, unfortunately – we went through some growing pains – but when we got to the Big 12 tournament, we were playing some really good baseball.”
Now with the new season on the horizon, the next few weeks of practice will be all about getting back to that level and getting back into the swing of things.
“In the fall, you feel good, everyone knows what they’re doing defensively and you’ve got all your systems in, then all of a sudden you take a eight or nine week break, come back and you start all over,” explained Hill, who is heading in to his 13th season at K-State. “So it’s going to be really, really important for the defensive systems to be put in quickly and for pitchers to get a feel of being on the mound, being in command of what they’re doing and for hitters trying to get some confidence and see pitches. We’re going to put ourselves in as much of a game situation as we can.”
Following the eight-game road trip to open the year, the Wildcats’ first home series takes place March 4-6 at Tointon Family Stadium against Arkansas Pine Bluff. For a full schedule, please click here. Season tickets are available by clicking here.
“The identity of the team this year is going to have the mentality that we’re not going to get outworked on the field,” closed Fischer. “We’re going to be the most hard-nosed team in the conference, and that’s how we’re going to win games.”