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SLATE: No foolin’, we’ve got home Big 12 baseball tonight

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The Cats host the Cowboys this weekend, plus some good and bad basketball news

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball

It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, the Kansas State Wildcats found a way to create some offense and escape their midweek series with a sweep, beating Northern Colorado 10-7 on a cold Wednesday night in Manhattan. The Cats gave up three runs to open the game, and were in a 7-2 hole headed into the bottom of the 4th inning. But the Cats clawed back, and 3 runs in the 4th, cut the deficit, and 3 more in the 6the were enough to put the Cats on top. Both teams struggled with the strikezone, as the two pens combined to issue 21 walks, while also hitting two batters each, and tossing a combined 5 wild pitches. But when it mattered most, K-State responded, and Dylan Phillips, our home run king, picked up the save in his first appearance on the mound this season tossing five straight strike-outs to finish the game. With the wins, the Cats improved to 13-11 on the season.

This weekend, the Cats welcome in the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are fresh off a a walk-off loss to OU on Tuesday night. The Cowboys enter the weekend with an 18-7 record, but started the season 5-6 before going on an 11-game win streak that OU snapped. Last weekend, the Cowboys swept the Jayhawks in Stillwater to start Big 12 play at 3-0.

First pitch tonight is set for 6pm CDT, and the Cats appear to be going with a change for the Friday night starter, with Blake Corsentino, and not regular Friday starter Blake Adams, slated to take the mound for his second start of the season. Saturday’s contest is set for a 4pm CDT first pitch, and the Cats are set to send regular Saturday starter Connor McCullough to the mound. Sunday’s series wrap-up is set for a 1pm CDT first pitch, but no starter has been announced. (These three links are for ESPN+)

Basketball

Well, first the bad news. Nijel Pack has decided to enter the transfer portal and seek a new collegiate home. It started trickling out on Thursday that it might be a possibility, and just before news broke it was confirmed that Nijel’s parents had cancelled an in-home visit with new K-State coach Jerome Tang. Pack, who had previously declared for the NBA Draft, said in his post that he was open to returning to K-State, but it will take some serious work on K-State’s part to bring back the First Team All-Big 12 guard.

On the good news side, two more staff hires have been made official. First, late on Wednesday it was announced that Marco Borne has joined the staff from Alcorn State to be the Chief of Staff. Borne spent last season as the associate head coach for Alcorn State, and has 14 years of head coaching experience at both the high school and NAIA levels across Texas and Louisiana, as well as at the international level, where he was head coach of the Haitian Junior National Team as well as an assistant coach for the Haitian Senior National Team from 2017-20.

And just dropped this morning, the biggest hit so far in Jerome Tang’s early tenure at K-State. Ulric Maligi has officially been announced as Associate Head Coach, joining K-State after following Chris Beard to Texas for this past season after spending the previous three seasons with Beard at Texas Tech. Maligi has spent time on D1 staffs across Texas including UT-Arlington (2006-07), Stephen F. Austin (2007-10), Houston (2010-12), SMU (2012-15), and Texas A&M (2016-19). It’s not every day that a school like K-State is going to be able to pull a sought-after assistant away from another Big 12 program, let alone a school with the resources of Texas, so this is a pretty big deal.

Now they just need to start reeling in some guys for next season.

All-American Ayoka Lee’s post-season awards spree has wrapped up, after she was named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America Honorable Mention list, the second straight season Lee collected honorable mention All-America honors from the WBCA. This award adds to her impressive haul after her historic season, that includes First Team All-American by The Athletic and Sports Illustrated, Second Team All-American by the Associated Press and USBWA, a finalist for the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award and was a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection by the league’s coaches and garnered her first selection to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Lee is the only player in NCAA Division I women’s basketball this season to register 725 or more points, 325 or more rebounds, and 90 or more blocks, and this was also the first time in the 54-season history of K-State women’s basketball that a player reached those same statistical markers in a single-season.

Football

After Tuesday’s open practice, K-State held it’s weekly football press conference on Wednesday, this time being led by first-year offensive coordinator Collin Klein. The former Hesiman Trophy finalist and K-State legend answered questions about his new quarterback, his view on his new offensive game-plan, as well as other players stepping up in the spring period. Of particular note, while Adrian Martinez continues to make progress in his recovery, and has been an active participant in non-throwing drills, Klein continues to be high on Will Howard, and is also impressed with the growth of the offensive line, which continues to be the deepest unit on offense despite losing several key seniors after this past season.