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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Know Your Opponent: Former top 25 K-State travels to No. 25 UCF

Wildcats face No. 25 UCF baseball in Big 12 play for the first time
Madison Riebel
Shortstop Kaelen Culpepper leaps over a Texas baserunner to attempt a double play on Friday, March 29. The Wildcats loss the game 21-11 as the 32 runs set a record for the highest score game in a matchup between the two schools in their head-to-head history.
K-State 19-8 (6-3)

Kansas State mounted a strong 10-game win streak capped off by a 14-6 win over Texas before losing the final two series games to the Longhorns. The Wildcats bounced back with an 8-4 win over Missouri State, led by shortstop Kaelen Culpepper with four RBI. K-State dominated at the plate with a top 20 batting average, pushing to a No. 23 ranking before losing it. If the bats can stay flying with more consistent pitching, the Wildcats can compete with anybody.

No. 25 UCF 19-7 (6-6)

The UCF Knights played a strong brand of baseball through 26 games. The Knights lost just one non-conference game while also defeating No. 4 Florida away from Big 12 play. The beginning of conference play was troublesome, falling in a three-game sweep by 22 runs to the former placeholder at No. 25, the Oklahoma Sooners. The Knights have since won three Big 12 series, winning two out of three in all of them, earning its No. 25 ranking.

Matchup to Watch: K-State bats vs. UCF arms

Both K-State and UCF have found success in 2024. While each team reached the top 25, the teams’ feats were accomplished in different ways.

For the Wildcats, a season of poor starting pitching and time without star closer Tyson Neighbors is overshadowed by excellent hitting. Led by second baseman Brady Day at .404, the Wildcat bats brought in runs after runs all season. Grabbing over eight runs per game with five batters over .300, any inning could be the time K-State changes the perception of a game by expanding a lead or spiriting together a comeback.

For the Knights, pitching is at the forefront of their success. UCF ranks second in the Big 12 with a 4.35 ERA, behind Kansas at 3.89. While only two regular starters are below the 4.35 mark, the Knights’ bullpen has picked up the slack. Five relievers have an ERA below 4.00, including closer Chase Centala at 2.55. If the offense for UCF can gain a lead, the Wildcats’ chances of mounting a comeback are lowered against the strong Knight bullpen.

Key Players


Shortstop Kaelen Culpepper

Pitcher Jackson Wentworth


Outfielder Matt Prevesk

Pitcher Kyle Kramer

Prediction: K-State 2-1

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About the Contributor
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
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