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College : : Story
Manhattan Regional preview
Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013

 

THE TEAMS
Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. Kansas State Big 12 41-17 At-large 2011
2. Arkansas Southeastern 37-20 At-large 2012
3. Bryant Northeast 44-16 Automatic First
4. Wichita State Southland 39-26 Automatic 2009
THE BREAKDOWN
Kansas State
1. Kansas State
 
2. Arkansas

3. Bryant

4. Wichita State
Kansas State has put together quite a campaign to remember this season, winning the Big 12 regular season title and earning an NCAA Regional host. Now, Brad Hill's Wildcats hope to protect their home field against a stout field of teams. KSU has one of the nation's most potent offensive lineups with Ross Kivett, Shane Conlon and Jared King leading the charge. Kivett is hitting .356 with a home run and 34, while athleticism and speed is a major attribute of his with 26 stolen bases in 36 attempts this season. Meanwhile, Conlon is hitting .345 with seven homers and 28 RBIs, and King is an elite prospect with good raw power, along with a .337 average, six homers and 48 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Austin Fisher, who's hitting a team-high .356 with two homers and 34 RBIs. From a pitching standpoint, the Wildcats aren't a team that will wow you, but they're serviceable with young right-handed pitcher Levi MaVorhis leading the way. MaVorhis has a 3.51 ERA in 51 1/3 innings, along with 28 strikeouts and 10 walks. Meanwhile, Joe Flattery has a good arm from the left side with a 4.02 ERA in 69 1/3 innings, and relievers Jake Matthys and Tanner Witt, with a combined 14 saves, are legitimate stoppers on the back end of games.
Arkansas
There's a reason we see the Razorbacks winning this NCAA Regional -- pitching, pitching and more pitching. The Hogs have one of the nation's elite pitching staffs, and possess an excellent rotation that includes right-handers Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin, and left-hander Randall Fant. Stanek was fantastic last week in the SEC tournament, sitting 91-96 throughout the contest with a good slider, while Astin also was good last week with a fastball up to 92-93, as well as good off speed stuff. Also keep an eye on Fant, who isn't an overpowering arm, but pounds the strike zone. Fant has a 1.92 ERA in 61 innings, along with 49 strikeouts and 17 walks. The starting rotation only is the tip of the iceberg for the Hogs, who also have a fantastic bullpen with hard-throwing Colby Suggs, as well as Trent Daniel and Jalen Beeks leading the way. Beeks has been terrific in 27 appearances with a 1.66 ERA in 38 innings. If there are question marks about this Arkansas club, it's in offensive production and defense. The Hogs have a tendency to have defensive lapses, as evidenced by a .963 fielding percentage. Meanwhile, the offense is just hitting .260, and will need guys such as Tyler Spoon and Joe Serrano, both productive last weekend, to emulate this weekend. Also keep an eye on Brian Anderson, who's hitting .338 with four homers and 33 RBIs.
Bryant
If you're looking for a small conference team that could surprise a lot of people, Bryant could be the team. The Bulldogs are making their first NCAA postseason appearance, but have a very solid club with experience. The starting rotation is a strong suit this season. Peter Kelich has great command and a 2.53 ERA in 92 2/3 innings of work, while Kevin McAvoy has a power arm with a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, along with a 3.45 ERA in 81 2/3 innings and 56 strikeouts. Also keep an eye on starting pitcher Craig Schlitter, who has a 2.53 ERA in 78 1/3 innings of work. In the bullpen, Salvatore Lisanti has a good changeup and a 1.27 ERA and 10 saves in 28 1/3 innings. Overall, this is a solid and deep pitching staff with a 2.63 ERA. It wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Bulldogs put together a strong run this weekend.
Wichita State
Wichita State definitely is an intriguing No. 4 seed entering the weekend. Though the Shockers picked the end of the season to get hot, this team has some talent, starting with ace pitcher Cale Elam. Elam will start the opening game against Kansas State's Levi MaVorhis, and has solid numbers with a 2.60 ERA in 93 1/3 innings of work, along with 74 strikeouts and 29 walks. Also keep an eye on AJ Ladwig, who has a 4.65 ERA in 79 1/3 innings of work, while the Shockers have a trio of very solid bullpen arms to watch, including Aaron LaBrie (0.87, 25 apps), Brandon Peterson (1.15, 25 apps) and Albert Minnis (2.75, 23 apps). Minnis is a decent prospect with a 2.75 ERA in 59 innings, along with 64 strikeouts and 23 walks. Offensively, keep an eye on hard-hitting Casey Gillaspie, the younger brother of Conor, who's hitting .300 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs. Meanwhile, Garrett Bayliff (.389/0/39, 11 stolen bases) and Tyler Baker (.332/4/46) are very talented hitters to watch. Wichita State has the ability to put pressure on opposing teams with Tanner Dearman and Erik Harbutz totaling 25 stolen bases.
REGIONAL FORECAST
Outside of Starkville and Blacksburg, there's not a more competitive NCAA Regional than Manhattan. Kansas State is the host, but Arkansas, in our opinion, is the leading candidate to advance to the NCAA Super Regional round. The Hogs have the deepest pitching staff, and we feel like the Hogs will do just enough offensively to get the job done. Of course, there's also assuming the Hogs will play a resemblance of good defense -- something that can't be assumed a lot of the time. K-State, though, has a solid offensive lineup, while Bryant and Wichita State both have the personnel to make a run through this tournament. It's Arkansas with three very able teams.

 



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