Wichita State doing well again

Wichita State looks like a potential tournament team this year. That is notable given its proximity to Fayetteville and the way regional teams are selected.

The Shockers are 26-9 overall and have the No. 13 RPI and No. 39 SOS heading into a series this weekend at Houston. They are 4-5 in conference games, but four of those losses have been to teams - East Carolina and UConn - that are potential regional hosts this year.

Wichita State, of course, is coached by Todd Butler, the former Arkansas assistant. Todd is 132-137 in his fifth season there.

Todd and I talk from time to time. He’s a good friend. He told me this summer that he had a good team. He’s got two hitters who will be high draft choices and his pitching is better. A major league executive I saw at the Auburn game had just been to Wichita to see some of Todd’s players. He said both of these that Todd had talked to me about could play anywhere in the country and will be great pros. I pull for Todd. He’s a good person and a good coach. His struggles early on at Wichita were perplexing. One of the things I was stunned to find out is that the pitching coach he inherited from Gene Stephenson did not recruit, did not call pitches. What did he do? No one was really sure. It took three years for Todd to get his own pitching coach. That was a saddle left him by Stephenson, who tried to protect his buddy the pitching coach when he retired.

Thanks to Matt for pulling out this data. I’m always interested in seeing how Todd’s teams are doing.

With that kind of RPI, Wichita would be a candidate to host a regional. Now they could get sent here for a super even if that happens.

I noticed D1 Baseball currently has Wichita as the 2 seed in Lubbock in their bracketology. Mobilehoma is the 2 seed here. Kinda flip a coin as to distance with Norman and Wichita. ORU and OSU are also likely tournament teams, as is MoState, although D1 does not have the Bad Uniform Bears in the field.

In looking at Wichita’s remaining schedule, the RPI is probably going to fall because the quality of opponent drops off quite a bit. Plus, I don’t see The American getting three host sites and East Carolina and UConn are in better positions to host.

Speaking of UConn, the plan apparently is to try to host at Fenway Park if it gets a regional. Boston is about 90 minutes from the UConn campus in Storrs.

Yeah I saw that at the D1 bracketology page, although there is some question whether the Sox will let them use Fenway. Apparently last time UConn was a host they used a minor league park, which will be occupied for regional weekend. UConn’s field has no capacity and no lights.

Which got me thinking about the days when George Cole Field was lightless. JFB didn’t get his reputation for squeezing nickels until they screamed for nothing; it took donations from some #ProHogs after about 15 years of Wrigley-style baseball to finally get lights at GCF.

When Texas came to town last month, I was speaking to my supervisor about the first game with lights at George Cole Field. It was against No. 2 Texas in 1985. About a week later, Eric Sorenson posted a photo from that night on Twitter.


In the first game under the lights, Arkansas defeated Texas when Ralph Kraus, a pinch-hitter, hit a walk-off 2-run HR in the ninth. It was attended by 3,175, an overflow crowd.

Greg Swindell, who was a longtime professional pitcher, pitched 7 innings that game for Texas.

Arkansas went on to win the series 2-1. Arkansas also beat Texas twice that year at the Southwest Conference Tournament, but Texas eliminated the Razorbacks in the national semifinal at the College World Series.

Those who donated the money for the lights were Kevin McReynolds, Johnny Ray, Tim Lollar and their agent, Tom Selakovich. Matt Willard wasn’t one of those. FYI, Matt Willard finished at Arkansas in 2007. I am not sure he was born when they put lights in at George Cole Field.

That’s probably a good excuse for his failure.

Perhaps Willard’s father donated some of his son-to-be’s future earnings. That would really add to JFB’s legendary dollar-squeezing ability. :smiley: