There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was just peaking over 70 degrees in the heart of the Willamette Valley when the Kansas State baseball team piled off a bus outside of Oregon State’s Goss Stadium on Friday afternoon for practice.
A perfect day by any definition.
For the Wildcats, everything seems just right headed into Saturday’s super regional against Oregon State, the Pac-12 champion.
And that’s not cockiness, they’ll tell you. It’s just confidence. Something you need when you want to prove you belong among college baseball’s elite.
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"We’re going to come out guns blazing," K-State shortstop Austin Fisher said. "We have confidence like we’re the number one team in the nation and we’re gonna take that attitude with us when we go out on the field. You have to have that type of confidence when you get to this point."
The Beavers won College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007; K-State (44-17), the Big 12 champion, is playing in a super regional for the first time.
"(Goss) is a great place to play, a great environment, but the basepaths are still 90 feet, the mound is still 60.6 feet from the plate," K-State second baseman Ross Kivett said. "We’re here to accomplish the goal we set for ourselves as a team back in August. The same goal that Oregon State has."
The Wildcats flew into Oregon on Thursday and practiced at Western Oregon University, a Division II school 20 miles north of Corvallis.
"It was good to get out and get used to the heat and something different from the crazy weather in Kansas," Fisher said. "Oregon State’s stadium reminds me a lot of where Kansas plays."
K-State coach Brad Hill said senior right-handed pitcher Joe Flattery (5-4, 3.87 ERA) will get the start against the Beavers on Saturday, but wasn’t sure who would start the second game or a possible third game.
Oregon State coach Pat Casey said he was "90 percent sure" he would start All-Pac 12 selection Matt Boyd (10-3, 2.20 ERA), a senior left-handed pitcher, on Saturday.
"We’ve got three guys we’re trying to get five or six innings out of and two guys we want to try to finish things off," Hill said. "We haven’t said much to them this week about (who will pitch) because that’s how we’ve been doing it all year long."
Hill went out of his way to underplay the magnitude of the series, stressing that his team needed to keep the same approach that has made them successful all year long.
"The thing we’ve tried to put at the forefront is that you can’t approach it like you lose two games and your season is over or you win two games and you’re going to Omaha," Hill said. "We have to keep our approach like it’s just another weekend series."
And that begins with the most basic things.
"It’s turf on the infield, just like we have, and they’ve got grass in the outfield, which we don’t," K-State center fielder Jared King said. "It’s still baseball when you get down to it, a few difference but we’re still going to come out and play with the same confidence we’ve had all year."