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Opening Day, Wildcat Style

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It's opening day for the Bat Cats, so lets here's your super-late preview as they take the mound in competition tonight in California.

We'll definitely try to get some new pictures this year....
We'll definitely try to get some new pictures this year....
PurpleKansas

It's been a relatively calm offseason for K-State Baseball. After the 2013 season finished with a Big 12 title, the 2014 season ended in a train wreck that saw a big chunk of the roster leave. The 2015 Bat Cats came together as a team and won a few games, but ultimately fell short of returning to post season play.

That's where the 2016 squad's eyes will be focused. And this squad is set up for success. This year's diamond squad returns eight seniors, most for K-State since 2006. However, only two of those young men were on the 2013 Big 12 championship squad, and six joined the program last year as transfers. Six more letter winners return, and among those 14 players the Wildcats return over half of its offensive production including 57% of its hits and 63% of its home runs.

The pitching staff brings a bunch of experience back to the mound as well, especially from the bullpen. One big arm will be missing though, as Nate Griep was drafted in the 7th round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Levi MaVorhis probably has the most honors of the returning staff though he's coming off an injury shortened 2015 season. But Corey Fischer and Colton Kalmus also return and both had strong 2015 seasons. In an interesting note, Fischer will be the first starting pitcher for 2016 after being the last starting pitcher in 2015.

Also new to the Wildcats is pitching coach Tyler Kincaid, who joins Bard Hill's staff after six years at the University of San Diego. He comes after a bit of an odd sequence for the K-state pitching staff, as long-time assistant Josh Reynolds left for the associate head coach position at Northwestern, and was replaced initally by former Wildcat assistant Sean McCann. After only a few months, McCann resigned due to health reasons, but luckily Hill was able to snag Kincaid. Kincaid resume from his six years at USD includes being one of the top recruiters in the country helping to bring in two top-5 recruiting classes, as well as a good developer of players with four All-Americans during his tenure and 21 pitchers drafted, including seven in the top-10 rounds.

Hopefully the Wildcats can return from their 8-game southwest road trip with a few victories, but it won't be easy asthe four games in Surprise, AZ are against Pac 12 opponents, including two against perennial power Oregon State. The Wildcats home opener is March 4th against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Bat Cats will primarily be on the radio early this season, on 1350 KMAN in Manhattan, and streamed live from K-StateSports.com. Today's feed can be found here.