Kansas State baseball's 2024 season a step in the right direction

Kansas State baseball's 2024 season a step in the right direction

Finally seated Pete Hughes the Kansas State baseball team coach was stuck somewhere between ecstasy and despair.

What could have been a magical 2024 season for the Wildcats just concluded when the No. 12 seed Virginia deposed them with a 10-4 beatdown in the NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional held at Disharoon Park. Of course, there was frustration, but Hughes was never one to admit that there were regrets.

This failure left the program disappointed but the next step for Hughes was satisfying. The Truth hurts, sometimes: ‘We’ve got to get better and we’re going to close the gap’.

What they said however reflects the team’s focus; ‘But we’re really close. We did not come here to get close. We came to Kansas State to get to Omaha. And we don’t even know what it looks like, but we can see it and plan to get there.

What could have been a historical moment for K-State where it is expected that the team would be going to the College World Series for the first time in its history was UVA that was making another return to Omaha after winning two straight games on its home ground in Charlottesville, Virginia.

”They are the epitome of college baseball,” Hughes said of the Cavaliers who trailed 4-0 in the first game of the series Friday before coming back for a 7-4 victory, then surviving a K-State scoring binge and pulling away late in the game to win again Saturday. Omaha driven and fueled every single year, the gold standard programs are those can refuel, reload, have their rosters get turned around with the drafts and come back and win the same amount of games and compete in order to go to Omaha.

27 That’s where we need to be, that’s where we want to be.

The program (and fans!) can take solace in the fact that the journey was a step and two victories closer to Omaha than it was before: The Wildcats snapped an 11-year NCAA Tournament dry spell and reached the tournament for the first time in Hughes’ sixth season. In fact, it was just their second appearance at a super regional ever.

When asked about the next step for his program, Hughes indicated that they are now just a line drive hit here and a bloop hit there away. When that arrives and you can talk in those terms, then you are right there.

Perhaps a little more depth and perhaps a little bit of fortune, but I know that we are on the right track As he pointed out, from five years ago to now is a million miles away.

Second baseman Brady Day, who earned Big 12 first team all-conference honours as a redshirt junior, was also a fan of the idea.

The coach also expressed his views regarding the results of the team: ‘It tells you about the amount of work we did prior the season and what our aspirations were when the season started, I can’t be more proud for our team how we fought through tough situations during the whole season and how we played during this postseason,’ Day stated. This is what I can say to all my colleagues; ‘I am super proud of everyone on the team’.

The Wildcats struggled throughout the regular season and managed only 1-2 record in Big 12 Tournament; however they spread fire at two weeks ago at Arkansas winning three successive games as three seeded team and becoming the champions of Fayetteville Regional. It is important to mention that they closed the season on the 35-26 overall record.

Hughes said of the team assembled for 2024: ‘It’s lifted the team to a whole new level’. But the standard and the expectation is already set and it does not happen if that message is not spoken every day in your clubhouse.

“They’re emotionally involved…it’s nice to see that pain in June…that’s what it’s all about…it’s about what we all aspire to… we do have the right guys in that locker room. ’

I think, based on the results, it can be said that the effects really do speak for themselves.

‘‘That’s the best team I have ever coached and I say that without any prose,’’ Hughes noted. “Starting with character, all the way down to the culture, talent, athleticism, and pitching, but excellent kids, kids that you’d want to be around. ”

Now looking to the future of the Wildcats, what is their plan?

They have taken it as a mission of closing the gap,” Hughes said. “ I think that is what baseball and that is what success is. It's right here. From there, pound the rock, get more people, be more, be more as a coaching staff we’ll close that gap. "