For the first time in more than two decades, the Wichita State baseball team will be playing exhibition games in the fall.
Earlier this year, the NCAA adopted a rule change that allows teams to play up to two fall exhibitions without the games counting against a team’s 56-game schedule in the regular season.
WSU coach Todd Butler is making his two count.
The Shockers will first travel to Nebraska for a game at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, then head to Fayetteville for a showdown against the national runner-ups from the summer, Arkansas, at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. Because Arkansas plays Alabama in football the next day, Butler thinks there might be as many as 10,000 fans in attendance.
“This is going to be great for our team,” said Butler, who was an assistant coach at Arkansas from 2006-13. “We’re going to play some great competition and two legit programs. Everyone across the country respects Wichita State, from the tradition to the history to last year when we had 11 guys drafted and had a very good team. We’re building in the right direction and they know we’re going to bring in some very good competition for them.”
WSU is 27-30 against Arkansas in 57 meetings, but the two programs haven’t met since the 2013 season. The Shockers hosted Nebraska for a three-game series at Eck Stadium this past March, winning two of three games.
The Shockers will still play in their fall World Series in late October or early November and are still working to finalize the dates. The 2019 spring schedule is also expected to be released sometime in October.
“Guys get tired of scrimmaging against each other, so this is going to be good for everyone,” Butler said. “Now you’re really playing a game to win and it’s going to mean a lot more. We’re going to know a lot more about our newcomers. This is for them to get comfortable to the speed of the game, the speed of pitches, how hard guys hit it, how fast guys are. This will be a taste of what real D1 baseball is all about.”