Attention on the red-brick campus of Wichita State this time of year has usually shifted from round ball to hardball _ as in, to the Shockers’ venerable baseball program.
But while the city catches basketball fever behind Wichita State’s improbable run to its first Final Four since 1965, the baseball team _ which has made seven trips to the College World Series and won the 1989 national title _ is trying to get back to the lofty heights it reached behind future big league standouts such as Joe Carter and Casey Blake.
The Shockers, with the fourth-best winning percentage in Division I history, were just 16-12 heading into a high-profile, mid-week series against Arizona State.
“The baseball team isn’t doing that well, so it kind of takes some pressure off them,” Twins pitcher and former Wichita State standout Mike Pelfrey said of the basketball team, which plays Louisville on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome.
Pelfrey grew up in Wichita and attended Heights High School before pitching three seasons for the Shockers. He was the ninth overall pick by the New York Mets in 2005, and is in his first season with the Twins, though he still lives in Wichita with his family in the offseason.
He’s a season-ticket holder for basketball, and made it to eight or nine games at Koch Arena before reporting to spring training this season.
“I told the guys in here, `It’s been cool, but I’m a Kansas Jayhawk fan first and foremost.’ I’ve been that for 20 years, and I only went to Wichita State for three,” Pelfrey said. “But other than that, obviously I want Wichita State to do well. But it’s pretty cool. I think they’ve been the talk of the town, from what I hear.”