The Kansas State baseball team spent the first two weeks of its season on the road, playing eight games in warm weather against Utah, Oregon State and UC Riverside.
Brad Hill hoped K-State would emerge from the stretch with a better record than 4-4, but it’s hard for the 13th-year coach to complain. After all, the Wildcats are .500 heading into their first home game on Friday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Seventeen of their next 18 games will be at Tointon Family Stadium, and if they can build off what they accomplished in February, they may have a much more promising record come April.
“You hope you play well at home,” Hill said. “It’s still about us trying to put together the team and mix-and-match and try to have ourselves together in three weeks when we open up conference play. You want to have a pretty good handle on who can do what, and we still have a couple of injuries we’re trying to work through, but that gives some other guys opportunities.”
Hill will continue to experiment with lineups that include different outfielders. He likes K-State’s infield and the top of the order – Jake Dodtke is hitting .400 and Jake Scudder is hitting .385 with a home run and nine RBIs – but he says left field and right field are both open.
One thing he won’t tinker much with is pitching.
K-State’s pitching staff flashed moments of brilliance on its opening road trip with Levi MaVorhis (1.46 ERA) and Corey Fischer (1.64) going undefeated. Colton Kalmus also owns an early victory and a 3.60 ERA. The Wildcats held UC Riverside to one run in two games, then limited Utah to six runs in a two-game sweep.
“We had pretty good starts, for the most part,” Hill said. “The one game against Oregon State got away from us, but other than that I thought the starts were good enough, so I can’t complain about our starters.”
That’s a good foundation to add on with 12 straight home games next on the schedule.
“We’re trying to build and learn from some things that took place,” Hill said. “The last three games were very positive ... I think we learned a lot, but we still have a lot to go.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett