SCENE SETTING: The Shockers face Oral Roberts in the 2022 home opener at Eck Stadium on Tuesday after 12 straight away games. Wichita State is coming off a Frisco Classic championship, sweeping Iowa, Washington State and Texas A&M over three days at Riders Field to become the first The American team to win the prestigious debut tournament. of the season. The Shockers led 4-0 in two of three games, completing Sunday’s comeback against Texas A&M with a Payton Tolle green light home in the seventh and one Jack Sigrist go ahead sacrifice steal in the eighth. Wichita State opened the season dropping its first six games, the worst start to the campaign since the 1953 season, but has since won five of its last six. The Shockers are coming off a 31-23 season a year ago, including an 18-13 mark in the American Athletic Conference that produced a third-place finish, WSU’s best since joining the AAC in 2017. Wichita State is seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2013 season, a regional bid that was later canceled by the NCAA.
SHOCKER BASEBALL ON RADIO AND ESPN PLUS: KFH 97.5 FM / 1240 AM will once again serve as the primary radio for all Wichita State baseball broadcasts in 2022. “The Voice of the Shockers” and Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Famer mike kennedy will get the call for today’s game against the Golden Eagles and then join the team later in the season after the conclusion of the men’s basketball season. The pre-game show begins approximately 20 minutes before the first pitch. All WSU home games will be streamed live on ESPN Plus (WatchESPN.com) featuring former Shocker All-American pitcher Shane Dennis On call. Live audio, in addition to live stats, will be available for all games at GoShockers.com/listen and ShockerStats.com.
SERIES HISTORY: Tuesday marks the 70th all-time meeting between the Shockers and Golden Eagles, with Wichita State holding a 38-31 series lead. WSU has won four of the last five matchups, with a modest four-game winning streak last Tuesday at Tulsa via an 11-6 loss. Sawyre Thornhill tore up a grand slam to give Wichita State a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning, but ORU responded with a bottom eight in the sixth to claim the win. The two teams alternated wins and losses in the seven games of the series from 2015 to 2018.
ROBERTS ORAL SCOUTING: The Golden Eagles come to Wichita having won eight straight games with an offense that hit .335 as a team. ORU has 41 extra hits in its 11 games, which is good for a .514 team hitting percentage. After a 1-2 start to the season at Mobile, Alabama, ORU is now 9-2, having scored six or more points in every game since opening weekend. The Golden Eagles are the preseason favorites to win the seven-team Summit League after going 31-23 (19-7) a year ago, dropping the Summit League championship game at the State of North Dakota. ORU’s last regional appearance was in 2018. The Golden Eagles returned five first-team all-conference selections from 2021, highlighted by league pitcher of the year Isaac Coffey. Head Coach Ryan Folmar is the reigning Summit League Coach of the Year, going 290-192 over ten seasons with four regional appearances. The Golden Eagles have a tough non-conference schedule that includes three games in Oxford, Mississippi against Ole Miss and midweek battles with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Mac McCroskey leads the way offensively averaging .500, going 22 for 44 with ten RBIs to start the season. Andrew Roach will start again against the Shockers after giving up one run in four innings last Tuesday.
MVPAYTON: Freshman shock Payton Tolle impressed in all facets of the game at Frisco, earning Frisco Classic MVP honors after a weekend in which he recorded two multi-game hits and played seven strong innings on the mound in a victory over the Washington State. Tolle provided arguably the Shockers’ two biggest hits of the weekend, clipping a three-point brace against Iowa on Friday to help erase a 4-0 deficit, then connecting for his first collegiate home run in the seventh inning against Texas A&M to give WSU its first lead of the game. He was named to the Frisco Classic All-Tournament team as a starting pitcher and designated hitter, and selected to the Weekly USA Honor Roll for his efforts.
DEPARTURE ON SITE: The Shockers will turn to the right Goodbye Cameron Tuesday, making his first career start. The No. 2 player from Euless, Texas has been brilliant this season operating out of the WSU bullpen, allowing just three hits in 6.1 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. He earned his first career victory Friday against Iowa with 2.2 shutout innings and five punches, two personal bests. Bye made ten relief appearances last season, posting a 4.97 ERA in 12.2 innings.
HIT PARADE: Transfer to junior college Sawyre Thornhill recorded at least one hit in each of his first 12 games with the Shockers, extending the streak with a third-inning single on Sunday against Texas A&M. He was selected to the Frisco Classic All-Tournament team as an outfielder, joining Payton Tolle on the squad. Thornhill leads the WSU in batting average (.354), hits (17), doubles (4), RBI (11) and is tied for the team lead in home runs (3). His last long ball came a week ago against Oral Roberts, when he connected for the Shockers’ first grand slam of the season.
TO TAKE A WALK: outfielder chuck ingram reversed several trends over the weekend in Frisco. Prior to Saturday’s game against Washington State, Ingram hadn’t walked twice in 2022 and had never walked twice in a single game. He then walked twice in consecutive games, adding three hits and three RBIs for good measure. The Kansas City sophomore finished the weekend 4 for 9, bringing his season average to .317.
ADVANTAGE OF HOME PITCH: Eck Stadium, home of Tyler Field, has always been one of the toughest places for opponents to win in its storied history. The Shockers own an all-time home record of 1,266-376-2, including an 856-273-2 mark at Tyler Field (first season 1988). Since taking over as head coach in 2020, Eric Wedge set a 30-8 record at Eck, highlighted by an impeccable 10-0 mark in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
RETAIN IT: Transfer of graduate Connor Holden solidified the back end of the Wichita State bullpen. Through five scoreless appearances as the Shocker closed in, Holden allowed just five baserunners on three hits and a pair of hits per pitch. He picked up the win Sunday against Texas A&M by striking out all four Aggies he faced, and already has three saves. The Louisville, Kentucky native was 5-1 with a 4.43 ERA and nine saves in four years at Murray State.
TRANSFER TRACKING: The Shockers added 12 transfers to the 2022 roster, including six from Division-I programs. HPR Connor Holden (Murray State), LHP austin wallace (Texas), LHP Adam Ketelson (Iowa), INF Will Charpentier (Penn State), RHP Matthew Boyer (Saint Louis) and RHP Grayson Jones (James Madison) are all heading to Wichita for 2022.
BUILDING ON THE LONE STAR STATE: 14 Shockers on the list hail from Texas, by far the most of any state. Oklahoma is second closest with nine, then four from Kansas. The Texans will have plenty of opportunities to shine in front of friends and family, as Wichita State plays ten games at Texas State in 2022 (one game at San Marcos, three at Corpus Christi, three at Frisco, three at Houston).
KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY: shock trainers Eric Wedge, Mike Pelfrey, Mike Sirianni and director of operations Loren Hibbs all have ties to the WSU baseball program. Wedge propelled the Shockers to a national championship as a starting catcher in 1989, earning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors along the way. Pelfrey was an All-American starter who ranks second in program history in ERA (2.18) and strikeouts (366). Sirianni was a volunteer assistant coach for the Shockers in 2015 and 2016 before moving to head coaching at Regis University. Hibbs helped WSU in the CWS program’s very first appearance in 1982, and still holds the NCAA record for single-season runs with 125.
COMPLETE STAFF: The Shockers have added a volunteer assistant coach Conor Behrens (pronounced BEAR-enns) to staff in late January after former volunteer Easton Herring accepted a position with Virginia Tech’s softball program. Behrens comes to Wichita after stops in Point Loma Nazarene and Central Missouri, where he helped the Mules finish second nationally in 2021.
SURVEY STATION: The Shockers were selected fourth in the American Athletic Conference’s preseason poll, the highest preseason projection for Wichita State since joining the AAC in 2017. Garrett Kocis and HPR Jace Kaminska were both selected to the AAC All-Preseason Conference Team.
ON THE BRIDGE: The Shockers host the South Dakota State Jackrabbits for three games at Eck Stadium over the weekend, with first pitch times of 3:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.