After 51 games, Wichita State baseball coach Todd Butler feels no urge to put extra emphasis on the last four, no matter how important they might be.
The Shockers have a few benchmarks within reach over the final week of the season, which begins Tuesday night with a 5 p.m. home game against Kansas State.
If WSU (25-26) wins on Tuesday, it won’t need to win the final three at Indiana State to assure a winning record. If the Shockers take at least two games in Terre Haute, they’ll take a winning record into the Valley tournament.
Those, along with the potential league standings by the end of the week, are too many scenarios for Butler to lay out for his players.
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“You can’t put that stuff on them,” Butler said. “Even myself, I’m just trying to coach each day and keep these guys going. They’re doing it, they’re fighting. The bottom line is finishing this home schedule and then winning on the road, because we have to win on the road in the conference tournament at Missouri State.”
WSU (9-9 MVC) holds the fourth-place tiebreaker with fellow .500 team Southern Illinois but could finish anywhere from third to sixth depending on this weekend’s results.
First up, though, is a game with K-State, which beat the Shockers in Manhattan two weeks ago. Since then, WSU is 4-3 with 48 runs, at least six in every game except a 13-2 loss to Dallas Baptist two weekends ago.
Greyson Jenista and Alec Bohm have led the offense, which ranks atop the conference in many categories, including batting average and hits. Jenista and Bohm are both batting at least .320, with Trey Vickers right behind at .313. Those three, who have started all 51 games, occupied the first three spots in the order on Sunday for the first time this season.
“Offensively, we’ve been pretty good in conference play,” Butler said. “The pitching kind of slipped there for a little bit. Hopefully that’s coming back and we can get all three (including defense) going.”
A winning record would mean WSU finished the season relatively strong after occasional bumps in earlier months. The Shockers have treated the final games as preparation for the Valley tournament, and their 3-1 record last week would be one win short of the record they would need to play for the conference title.
“We’re taking it as Tuesday’s game would put us in that championship game,” WSU outfielder Travis Young said. “So we’re trying to get Tuesday’s game, win that here, because we’re 21-7 here at home and we want to finish out strong.”
Lewis honored — WSU senior Zach Lewis is the MVC pitcher of the week. Lewis threw a three-hitter in Friday's 6-0 win over Evansville. He struck out eight and walked one.
at Wichita St.
- When: 5 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Eck Stadium
- Records: KSU 27-24, WSU 25-26
- Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM, 98.7-FM
- Online: ESPN3.com