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MVC baseball carried on while Wichita State faltered since 2009

Wichita State baseball departs the Missouri Valley Conference with one MVC title in the past nine seasons.
Wichita State baseball departs the Missouri Valley Conference with one MVC title in the past nine seasons. The Wichita Eagle

We spent much time griping about Missouri Valley Conference basketball over the past four seasons, much of it justified. Wichita State needed better from its nine conference teammates.

If the rest of the MVC gripes about Wichita State baseball’s nine-season drop, well, that’s also justified.

Monday’s NCAA regional announcement provided another reminder of the recent state of Shocker baseball how the MVC prospered even as its most prominent program slipped into the middle of the standings.

Third-seeded Dallas Baptist and second-seeded Missouri State are in.

The move to add Dallas Baptist in 2014, one WSU campaigned for, works well. The Shockers didn’t take advantage and haven’t earned an NCAA at-large bid since 2007 or earned significant consideration for one over the past nine seasons.

Since WSU last earned an at-large bid, Indiana State has two and Bradley one.

The fall started in 2009 under former coach Gene Stephenson and continues under coach Todd Butler.

In those nine seasons, WSU shared the 2010 MVC title and played in NCAA regionals in 2009 and 2013 after winning the MVC Tournament. It finished in the top 50 of the RPI once (2012). The 2010 Shockers can build a case that the rest of the MVC let it down. Beyond that season, however, WSU’s lack of national relevance is not on the MVC.

In that time, the Valley produced six at-large teams: Indiana State (2012, 2014), Missouri State (2012, 2017), Bradley (2015) and Dallas Baptist (2015).

The MVC offered support for baseball RPI in most of the seasons — it ranked No. 5 nationally in 2012, No. 6 in 2015 and No. 7 in 2011 and 2014. In 2015, Dallas Baptist and Missouri State hosted regionals — a strong statement from a conference that isn’t the SEC, ACC, Big 12 of Pac-12.

WSU helped because it played a good schedule and won some of those games. But it didn’t help as much as it’s capable and certainly didn’t take advantage of the MVC’s strength for its own gain.

Season

Wichita State RPI rank

Strength of schedule rank

Non-conference strength of schedule rank

MVC RPI rank

2009

99

70

35

17

2010

63

109

71

15

2011

73

104

122

7

2012

45

44

N/A

5

2013

103

121

72

15

2014

74

52

N/A

7

2015

109

28

27

6

2016

183

50

52

9

2017

148

115

38

17

Sources: Boydsworld.com, warrennolan.com, ncaa.org

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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