MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State's baseball team hopes that the best is yet to come for the 2010 Big 12 Conference Baseball Tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.
After playing a weekend series in College Station, Texas, over the weekend, the Wildcats boarded a bus for OKC on Monday, but around Fort Worth, K-State's mode of transportation came to a sputtering halt around two in the afternoon.
"Playing some cards," said K-State catcher Daniel Dellasega in the midst of a three-hour (and counting) repair delay.
Spending time at a truck stop/Sonic, Adam Muenster added, "Thinking we would be there just a half hour, we started off by grabbing some food, but as time went on, Jason King and I went out in back of the building and started climbing on some rocks and roaming around just for something to do."
Closer James Allen simply said, "I just tried to stay hydrated in the Texas heat."
The Wildcats hoped to arrive in OKC by mid-evening on Monday, which will be followed by a workout on Tuesday at Bricktown Ballpark prior to the first Pool game on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Baylor. K-State will then play Friday at 3 p.m. against Kansas, and Saturday at 4 p.m. against Oklahoma.
The two Pool winners will then play for the championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. In Pool A are Big 12 champion Texas, along with Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Missouri.
K-State entered last year's postseason event with 39 victories and as a fourth-place finisher in the Big 12 with a regular season record of 14-11-1. KSU finished the year with a record-setting 43-18-1 record.
This year, the 'Cats are 35-18, which includes a 14-12 Big 12 mark, which was good for an all-time high third-place finish. For the second year in a row, K-State looks to be poised to earn an NCAA Regional berth.
To that, however, Muenster said, "We're only concerned about Wednesday, and then the game on Friday, and then the one on Saturday. The Regional stuff will be announced Monday. That's when we will turn our attention to postseason play."
As for this week, Dellasega said, "We're ready to go. We're hungry ... very hungry. It's all about winning one game at a time right now. We're very confident going into the week."
Confident, but also understanding that they did not win four of their last five series going 0-2 with Missouri, 1-2 versus Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M, and 2-1 against Kansas.
While limping to the regular season finish line, Dellasega said, "We've been in the games that we lost. Every team we play knows they are going to get 100 percent from us. We don't take plays off and we play hard. We're a team that does not give up."
Coming off last year's success, Allen added, "It's like we've been here before. We're not in awe of any team. We just have to step up and play our best baseball."
TO LAST YEAR: KSU baseball coach Brad Hill says this year's club is "totally different" than the one of 2009. And, he's right.
A year ago, K-State hit .317 as a team with a lofty 58 home runs and 203 extra-base hits. This season, the 'Cats are hitting for a higher average at .325, but with only 34 home runs and 161 extra-base hits.
On the mound, K-State had an automatic win when A.J. Morris went to the mound with his 14-1 record and 2.09 ERA. This year it's an all-sophomore rotation of Kyle Hunter (8-2, 4.19), Justin Lindsey (4-3, 5.68) and Kayvon Bahramzadeh (1-3, 6.64), plus senior Ryan Daniel (5-3. 3.86).
"It's really impossible to compare teams," said Dellasega. "Like last year, it's a team that plays fundamental baseball. All of us can lay down a bunt, and then deliver the big hit the next time. It's a team, like last year's, that plays hard and has good chemistry."
IN THE BIG 12: As a team, K-State leads the Big 12 with a team batting average of .325, plus is high in stolen bases with 107.
In Big 12 games only, Nick Martini led the conference with a .420 average, plus .515 on-base percentage. Muenster ranked fourth in the league at .393 and with an on-base percentage of .483.
In all games played, Muenster was second in the league in hits (88), third in runs scored (61) and third in stolen bases (22). Martini was second in triples (4), Dellasega fourth in doubles (19) and Carter Jurica second in RBI (65).
On the mound, James Allen is sixth in saves (7).