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Wichita State's spring ends early

About two weeks ago, a weird, melancholy feeling hit – I was sure the 2009 Shocker baseball team got the NCAA regional spot the 2010 team would end up deserving.

It felt that way after watching the 2010 Shockers in the midst of a strong finish, but one that ultimately wasn’t strong enough to overcome earlier losses and a lack of marquee wins. The 2009 team, while it performed well in the regional, stumbled through the regular season and barely finished above .500. This team, while flawed, proved itself to be a regional-caliber opponent. It had the starting pitching. It had an offensive attack with enough weapons. The bullpen and defense, while not consistently great, were capable of solid performances.

As you know by now, it worked out that way. The 2009 team earned an automatic bid in the MVC Tournament. The 2010 team is packing up after not receiving an at-large bid.

The Shockers are disappointed, although I think they were somewhat prepared for the blow. For the 10 seniors, it must be crushing to end their careers on this note. This seemed to be a team that got along well and enjoyed good chemistry. They wanted to keep playing, because they were having fun for the past month.“Each bubble team we saw come in, we kind of counted down the spots,” senior Bret Bascue said. “There wasn’t very many this year. You get down to the last couple regionals, and you’re starting to get that feeling maybe this year wasn’t our year, and that’s how it turned out.”If you need to look back with regret, here’s my list of games that killed the Shockers:WHAT WENT WRONGFor any border-line regional team, there is list of losses and bad bounces that make or break a season. A look at the timeline of events that kept Wichita State out of an NCAA regional for the first time since 2001."We lost a lot of mid-week games, frankly, because our pitching wasn't very good during that stretch," WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. "In retrospect, the one loss at Long Beach State really hurt us. We should have held on and won that. There's a lot of things you can point to that didn't work."

Feb. 23 — Snow cancels WSU's opener at Kansas, the first of three games against good opponents lost to weather. The Shockers replace those games with NAIA opponents, non-factors when the RPI is calculated.March 13 — WSU leads Long Beach State 4-3 before giving up four runs on four hits and an error in the eighth inning. Instead of taking the second game of the weekend series, the Shockers lose 7-4 and start a stretch of six losses in seven games.March 20-21 — After defeating Washington State 5-3 on Ryan Jones' ninth-inning home run, snow claims the next two games of the series. WSU loses out on two games at home against a top-40 RPI opponent.March 23-24 — Oral Roberts sweeps a mid-week series with 7-1 and 8-1 victories in Tulsa.April 2 — WSU starter Jordan Cooper struggles through his shortest outing of the season — 4.1 innings — in an 11-6 loss at Evansville.April 11 — The Shockers fail to finish off a weekend sweep, falling 9-5 to Southern Illinois after taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning.April 17 — The Shockers build a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning at Indiana State before losing 5-4.April 20 — WSU leads Kansas State 3-2 entering the top of the eighth inning at Eck Stadium. The Wildcats tie the game, then take a 5-3 lead after a dropped pop up on the infield with two outs. Kansas State wins 7-4.April 23 — WSU again kicks away a sweep at home, losing 4-3 to 15-23 San Jose State . The Shockers commit four errors and are held to eight hits.May 16 — Missouri State, another team with a losing record, wins on Sunday to spoil a sweep. The Bears score six runs in the third inning on their way to a 10-3 win.May 29 — Illinois State scores in each of the first six innings to build a 17-8 lead in the MVC Tournament championship game.