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Baseball: KU (18-12) vs. #12 Wichita State (20-3)

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Kansas Jayhawks (18-12) vs. #12 Wichita State (20-3)

Wichita State's visit to Lawrence is always one of the big days of each KU season. Ever since the 1980's Wichita State has been a baseball powerhouse and 2008 is no different. The Shockers enter tonight's game ranked #12 in the latest Baseball America poll and on a 17 game winning streak. If the Jayhawks are going to derail them tonight it will be no easy task.

First Pitch will be at 7PM. The probable starters are Tim Kelley for the Shockers (2-1, 5.29 ERA) vs. Shaeffer Hall (2-1, 4.11 ERA).

Media: Tonight's game will be broadcast by KLWN (1320-AM) and will also be carried live on kuathletics.com for those outside the Lawrence area.

Numbers: Complete Wichita State stats are located here. Jayhawk stats here.

Jayhawk Story Line: Obviously this is a rivalry game. And whenever these teams meet some amount of time is spent discussing this as a battle over Midwest recruiting. But today I hope the Jayhawks are single mindedly focused on a smaller goal. The Hawks just need to win games right now. This is a big game, a nice RPI contest, and it is here in Lawrence. The pitching matchup seems to favor the Jayhawks. Let's nail this one down and build up a little steam for the trip down to Waco this weekend.

KU has added a game vs. Saint Marys (NAIA) on Wednesday at 6PM to make up for an earlier game which was canceled. I believe addmission to this game will be free. For more on Saint Marys just click "read more."

Witchita State Prospect Report by bkmhoxx

The Shockers have a few top tier draft picks on this team. Several of which id expect to make it to the show (MLB). It isn't a super deep team when it comes to pro prospects, but what the Shockers do so well is MAKE professional players out of hard working kids. So I would expect for many more to come out of the woodwork as the year progresses and to be there as a prospect next season. Let me go over who I am going to be keeping my eyes on tonight.

3B Conor Gillaspie, JR, 6'1, 200,
Gillaspie is quite simply, an awesome baseball player. He is a second team All-American. Last year he hit .325 with 6 HR, 63 RBI, 24 Doubles and 12 Steals as a sophomore. Gillaspie has a great bat and plays great defense. He doesnt have a lot of HR but he has quite a bit of pop in his bat. So far this year he is hitting .435 with 2 HR, 30 RBI, 7 steals, 6 Doubles and 6 Triples and only 4 Errors at third. He is athletic with a great bat and glove. I think he will be a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but could sneak into the late first round or supplementary first round. I can't wait to see his swing.

C Tyler Weber, 6'3, 220, SR
Weber is a gold glove caliber catcher and he also has a nice bat. Those 2 things are very rare to have in combination. Last year Weber hit .297 with 11 HR and 49 RBI. So far this year he is a hitting machine, batting .373 with 2 HR, 22 RBI, 6 Doubles, 1 Triple and ZERO errors. Amazing numbers for a catcher with his defensive abilities. I would expect his average to come back to earth and finish a bit above .300. I will be anxious to see him work behind the plate tonight.

SS/RHP Dusty Coleman, 6'2, 185, SO
Coleman is a fine young shortstop with tons of potential. He hit .264 with 10 Doubles, 1 Triple, 2 HR, 19 RBI and 7 steals as a freshman. Those are some crazy good freshman numbers for any position, let alone a shortstop. He also is a pitcher with a very hefty arm and could possibly be a closer at some point. So far this year he is at .367 with 5 HR, 32 RBI, 7 Doubles, 1 Triple, 6 Steals and 5 Errors. As a sophomore, he is well on his way to being an All-American and a high draft pick next year. Im excited to see his bat and his arm.

OF Ryan Jones, 6', 185, SO
Jones didnt get much time last year and he went through the typical struggles of a freshman but this year has come out in a frenzy. He is hitting .352 with 14 RBI, 4 Doubles, 3 Triples and 7 Steals. I think he is hiding some power in there somewhere and the power coupled with his athletic frame and speed will result in a very nice outfielder.

OF Andy Dirks, 6', 195, SR
Dirks is a true leadoff guy. Last year he batted .320 with 3 HR, 31 RBI and 19 SB. He knows how to hit the ball and he knows how to get on base and then once he is on base, he knows how to steal and score. This year he is at .333 with 3 HR, 14 RBI, 3 Doubles, 2 Triples and 9 Steals. He should be exciting to watch tonight.

OF Ken Williams Jr., 6'2, 198, JR
Williams is a transfer from Arizona and was drafted in the 36th round in 2004 by the White Sox. Rightfully so as his father is the General Manager of the Chicago White Sox. Williams is very athletic and seems to be putting things together this year batting .367 with 7 RBI, 5 Doubles, 2 Triples and 4 Steals. Im anxious to see if he has the tools to turn into something special. Good for the Jayhawks but bad for prospect watching, we wont face any of the big 3 tonight on the mound.

RHP Aaron Shafer, 6'4, 205, JR
Shafer is one of the top pitchers in the country. He is a bulldog on the mound and is a 2nd team All-American. He has pitched 36.1 innings and has a 2.23 ERA while striking out 34 and walking 12. Shafer wont pitch tonight but who knows about when we play down there? He will be a pick in the top 2 rounds of the draft.

LHP Anthony Capra, 6'1, 200, JR
Capra is one of the top lefties in the country and is a 3rd team All-American. He has an outstanding fastball with a great breaking ball and a change. He has a microscopic 1.17 ERA in 23 innings with 34 K's and 5 walks. He may actually be better than Shafer but he doesnt possess the same size. He will be a top 3-4 round pick this summer. Once again, not pitching tonight so maybe next time?

LHP Rob Musgrave, 6'2, 195, SR
Musgrave is the last of the big 3. He is another one of the top lefties in the country. Musgrave throws 3 pitches very well and is very consistent. He is also a 3rd team All-American. This year he has a 2.13 ERA in 38 innings with 40 K's and 6 Walks. He too will be in that top 5 rounds somewhere and he wont pitch tonight either.

RHP Tyler Fleming, 6'3, 180, JR
Fleming is a transfer from Cowley College. He was drafted in the 39th in 07 by Texas and in the 20th in 06 by Texas. He has a nice fastball, a slider and a change. This year he has a fraction of an ERA at 1.71 in 26.1 innings with 14 K's and 3 walks. Fleming is another good pitcher and i wouldnt expect to see him tonight either unless WSU somehow gets in a bind.

RHP Andy Womack, 6'2, 180, SR
Womack has gone through some injuries but has the ability to be one of the top relievers in the nation if healthy. He is currently sporting a 5.30 ERA in 8.1 innings with 9 K's and 5 walks so it appears something isnt right thus far and he may even be injured right now. I will see what i can find out tonight.

RHP Khol Nanney, 6'2, 185, SR
Nanney has had an amazing year thus far with an ERA of 0.90 in 10 innings with 11 K's and only 1 walk. I will be anxious to see if he is as dominant as his numbers portray. We have a shot tonight because WSU is going with an average pitcher. Our bats have been hot and Hall is on the mound. Its gonna be a chilly one and the wind will be blowing out so RF and Right Center will be a nice HR zone for lefties or any righthanders that have decent opposite field power.

I'm calling this one 7-4 Jayhawks WIN! Beak Em Hawks!

The University of Saint Mary is located in Levenworth Kansas. Shockingly the KU - Saint Mary baseball rivalry is one of the oldest in school history. The two schools first met on the diamond in 1899. KU owns a 13-12 advantage in overall but Saint Mary's last victory occured in 1930.

Saint Mary is an NAIA team so the game will not factor into KU's NCAA or RPI records. The Spires are 12-9 this year, they finished 20-21 in 2007. Unfortunitly the school has not yet posted player statitics for 2008 so I can't pass on any specific information about the team. The KU news release focused on catcher Cody Newman who is batting .569 this season. Wally Marciel will get the start on Wednesday and I imagine he will pitch at least three innings. This game will give him a good opportunity to work on whatever has been sabotaging him during the last three outings. If Esquibel does move into the weekend rotation then Marciel, Garcia and T.J. Walz will form the long relief core on weekends.