Arkansas and Wichita State both have rich histories in the NCAA baseball tournament.
Kansas State and Bryant? Not so much.
The Shockers will be making their 28th appearance in the NCAA tournament, and their first since 2009. The Razorbacks are in the tournament for the 26th overall time, extending their streak to 12 straight appearances.
The Wildcats will be making their fourth-ever appearance in the postseason, with all four coming in the past five years. It’s the first time K-State has ever hosted a regional, and it will be the first-ever postseason appearance for the Bryant Bulldogs.
K-State and Wichita State will open the regional on Friday at 2 p.m. inside Tointon Family Stadium, with the sold-out game being televised on ESPNU.
The Shockers broke their postseason-less streak by running the table in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, after finishing second in the MVC during the regular season.
Wichita State was 39-26 this season and 15-6 in MVC play, and lost to K-State in two mid-week meetings. The Wildcats won the first matchup on April 9, in Manhattan, winning 7-6. In a second meeting a week later, the Wildcats came out on top 4-1 in Wichita.
But Friday’s matchup will be the first time this season that the Wildcats will face the Shockers No. 1 pitcher, and the same can be said for the Shockers. Cale Elam is likely to get the start for Wichita State, having pitched his way to a 7-4 record with a 2.60 ERA and 74 strikeouts.
Garrett Bayliff is leading the Shockers at the plate this season with a .389 average. Casey Gillaspie leads the team with 10 home runs.
Wichita State is 51-33 all-time against the Wildcats, but K-State has won 19 of 37 games against the Shockers in Manhattan, including 12 of the last 18. Friday’s game will be the first time the two schools have ever met in the postseason.
Arkansas and Bryant will have the nightcap on Friday, playing at 7 p.m. The Razorbacks were 37-20 this season with an 18-11 record in the SEC. Arkansas finished second in the Western division, and is coming off an appearance in the College World Series last season.
The Razorbacks are led by a three-man rotation with an ERA under 2. Ryne Stanek is 9-2 with a 1.40 ERA, while Randall Fant is 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA and Barrett Astin was 4-4 with a 1.94. Arkansas boasts a nation-leading 1.87 team ERA.
Arkansas is led at the plate by Brian Anderson, who hit .338 with 12 doubles and 33 RBIs this season.
A potential matchup between K-State and Arkansas would be the 48th in school history. The Wildcats played in Fayetteville, Ark., in their 2009 NCAA appearance, but did not face Arkansas.
Bryant is in the NCAA postseason for the first time in school history after winning the Northeast Conference Championship.
The Bulldogs were 44-16-1 overall and finished first in the NEC with a 27-5 record. K-State and Bryant have never met.
Bryant ranks top 10 in the country in team ERA at 2.63, led by Peter Kellch’s 7-4 record and 2.53 ERA. Kevin Brown leads the team at the plate with a .368 average.
The tournament is run in a double-elimination format, meaning the winners of Friday’s games will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and the losers will play at 2 p.m. that afternoon, bringing about the first elimination.
The regional championship will be played on Sunday, with an extra game played on Monday if necessary. All games will be played at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.