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BatCats end Big 12 Tourney run

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More Wildcats qualify for NCAA Outdoors

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship
Same, dude. Same.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball

It was fun while it lasted.

In the first game of the Big 12 Championship semifinal matchup against TCU, Kansas State pulled off a 5-2 victory over second-seeded TCU. The BatCats scored four runs in the first inning, with Terrence Spurlin and Nick Goodwin notching an RBI each, followed by a two-out two-run double from Kamron Willman. But this win belonged to the pitching. Starter Caleb Littlejim tossed almost five innings, striking out five before Eric Torres relieved him. Torres delivered a career-long outing with a career-high eight strikeouts to seal the win, and the program’s best run in the conference tournament since 2008.

Having forced a winner-take-all second game though, the BatCats ran into a buzzsaw. The BatCats lost 17-7 to the Horned Frogs, partly due to a first inning seven-run avalanche from TCU. Starter Dylan Phillips had a rough day, facing just five batters and allowing four base hits without an out before being pulled in favor of Connor McCullough. In his first outing as a reliever, he promptly gave up three RBI singles, but ultimately settled down and retired seven straight hitters with two strikeouts before being replaced by Jaxon Passino.

Unfortunately for the BatCats, TCU’s bats were just too hot. By the sixth inning, TCU was leading 10-3 and a late run by Kansas State was answered with another string of seven runs in the eighth.

The BatCats’ post-season picture is not perfectly clear just yet. The NCAA field will be announced on Monday. Meanwhile, head coach Pete Hughes made an impassioned plea for his team to be considered, noting that his team had a run better than any team in the country over the last couple of weeks:

It’s honestly hard to disagree with anything Hughes says here. So keep your fingers crossed. We may still be on this ride.

Track and Field

At the NCAA West Prelims, four more Wildcats—Wurrie Njadoe (100m; new school record), Kimisha Chambers (400H), Rhianna Phipps (triple jump), and Ashley Petr (discus) qualified for events at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships. With that, the following 13 Kansas State athletes will be competing for national titles at the NCAA Outdoors.

  • Lauren Taubert (heptathlon)
  • Ariel Okorie (heptathlon)
  • Helene Ingvaldsen (women’s hammer)
  • Shaelyn Ward (women’s hammer)
  • Taylor Latimer (women’s shot put)
  • Taishia Pryce (women’s long jump)
  • Rhianna Phipps (women’s triple jump)
  • Ashley Petr (women’s discus)
  • Kimisha Chambers (women’s 400H)
  • Wurrie Njadoe (women’s 100m)
  • Logan Wolfley (men’s javelin)
  • Jullane Walker (men’s long jump)
  • Tejaswin Shankar (men’s high jump)

Okorie, Ingvaldsen, Latimer, Shankar, and Walker are making return trips to Eugene, while all the other Wildcats will be competing in Eugene for the first time.

The NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held from June 9-12.

Miscellany

The 2020-21 season has posed some unique and difficult challenges for the athletic department, and in particular, for its sports medicine staff. This past week, the entire sports medicine staff at Kansas State was named the Big 12’s Sports Medicine Staff of the Year by their peers in the conference. The award is in recognition of the school’s conference-leading efforts in developing health and safety protocols to manage COVID-19.

Have a great long weekend, everyone!