Wildcat baseball gears up to start the 2017 campaign

Then-junior Parker Rigler pitches during the baseball game between the University of Texas and K-State on April 8, 2016, at Tointon Family Stadium. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegain)

The Kansas State baseball team will open up the 2017 season this weekend as they travel to Florida for three games against Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Delaware in the Sunshine State Classic.

The Wildcats are returning 15 letter winners from last year and have 21 new players on this year’s team.

Two of those letter winners are All-Big 12 selections, senior Jake Scudder and sophomore Josh Rolette. Scudder is riding an 11-game hitting streak from last season, after which he also named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

Last season, the Wildcats earned a trip to the Big 12 Championship for the ninth time in the past 10 years. They were were picked eighth in this year’s preseason poll.

Their first game of the season will be against the Buckeyes at 11 a.m. on Friday when sophomore Bryce Ward will take the mound for the Wildcats.

On Saturday, K-State will take on the Pittsburgh Panthers at 10 a.m. The Panthers finished 13th last season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

From last year’s team, Pittsburgh brings back 11 players, but the Wildcats defeated the Panthers in 2015, 7-0, in the only meeting ever between the two teams.

Following that game, K-State will face off against the Delaware Blue Hens at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Blue Hens finished the 2016 season 32-25 and in a tie for seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Wildcats and Blue Hens have only played one time in their history, which was in 2010. K-State defeated Delaware 11-5.

K-State head coach Brad Hill is 9-4 in season openers while at K-State, and the team has won seven of their past eight opening day games. The Wildcats open the season on the road for the 14th straight year.

Last season, K-State finished with a record of 26-31 overall and 8-16 in conference play, which was good enough for eighth place.