A decision to start freshman pitcher Blake McFadden by Kansas State coach Brad Hill in Game 2 of an NCAA super regional led to early disaster for the Wildcats on Sunday in what’s becoming a familiar pattern for McFadden.
McFadden, fresh off struggling against Arkansas in the final game of the NCAA regional in Manhattan, gave up back-to-back home runs to Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis in the first inning, plus another earned run to put K-State in a 3-0 hole. Both shots went out almost directly above the Beavers’ 2007 national championship sign in center field.
Arkansas also put McFadden and K-State in a 3-0 hole against Arkansas, although the Wildcats were able to rally for a 4-3 win and a clinch a spot in the super regional.
McFadden’s struggles as of late — in particular in the NCAA Tournament — have led to a stat line to make any pitcher cringe. In this year’s tournament alone, McFadden has a 23.14 ERA with nine hits and six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. McFadden entered Sunday’s start with a 6-2 record and 4.40 ERA.
The last team from either state to make it to Omaha was Missouri State in 2003 under Keith Guttin. The last team from Kansas to make it was Wichita State in 1996. The Shockers remain the only team from either state to ever win a CWS title, winning in 1989 with coach Gene Stephenson. Kansas made its only CWS appearance in 1993, with WSU joining them there.
Missouri hasn’t been to the CWS since 1964, the last of six appearances made by the Tigers in a 12-year span, all coming under legendary coach Hi Simmons.
Fisher leads the Wildcats with a .365 batting average, is an All-Big 12 selection and is also the only player from the Big 12 nominated for the Brooks Wallace Award, which goes to the nation’s top shortstop. Fisher, from Lenexa, is also nominated for the Gregg Olsen breakout player of the year award.
As a freshman, Fisher hit .295 and started eight games.
That begin said, the Wildcats and the Beavers have some past success in common, being the only northern teams to earn bids to NCAA regionals in 2009, 2010 and 2011.