The more you read about Washington State’s opponent Friday, Kansas State – and there is another story on the link – the more you understand why WSU coach Donnie Marbut keeps saying the Wildcats are a lot like his Cougars. However, there are significant differences. Read on.
• Before we get into KSU, we’ll give you some links to peruse. … Over at CougCenter, they’ve delved into each of the four teams at the Arkansas regional. … And the guys at Cougfan have a piece about WSU’s Olympia connection. … OK, now let’s look at Kansas State. Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle has a story today concerning the hard road coach Brad Hill had to travel to build the program. Sound familiar? Kansas State, located in a small rural town in a BCS conference, were, not too long ago, one of the worst programs in the country. Sound familiar? It was a program with no history of success. Sou … wait, that’s different. Well anyhow, the Wildcats are now riding the momentum of two consecutive NCAA appearances – and that’s familiar. But the way they play ball is different than WSU. Though the Wildcats have a couple of mashers – Nick Martini was the Big 12 co-player of the year and Carter Jurica hit 11 home runs – they love to play a brand of small ball illustrated by leadoff hitter Adam Muenster. Muenster, the leadoff hitter, had an on-base percentage of .477 (though Martini led the team at .507) and scored 62 runs. He also had 25 stolen bases (Martini had 19 and Jurica had 18, which tells you how much the Wildcats like to run). KSU was 19th in the nation in stolen bases per game, 41st in walks, 21st in sacrifice bunts, ninth in hit by pitch and 234th in home runs per game (out of 292 schools). This is a team of mosquitoes that nips at your arms and legs all game long until you bleed to death. … The reliance on sacrifices and stolen bases is a marked difference with WSU. The Cougars use their speed more to go first-to-third than to steal second, and Marbut doesn’t like to give up outs unless he believes the situation demands it. But neither lineup is the 1927 Yankees – nor the 1906 White Sox. Though they use different approaches, both put pressure on the pitcher.
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back later this afternoon with a little more, though our story for tomorrow’s S-R has been on the blog for a while. Until then …