Wichita State (0-4, 0-0 American) at Texas State (3-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Thursday February 24 | 4:00 p.m. | San Marcos, TX (Bobcat Ballpark)
Television: None | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
HPR Robert Cranz (0-0, 0.00) v RHP Trevis Sundgren (0-0, 9.00)
SCENE SETTING: Wichita State continues its season-opening 12-game road momentum Thursday afternoon with a midweek matchup at Texas State. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, but the threat of wintry weather forced the game to be moved to San Marcos. The Shockers are aiming to rebound from a 6-2 loss Tuesday at Oklahoma, reducing their season record to 0-4. 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. Denning Gerig will have the call of games this week, with former Shocker All-American pitcher Shane Dennis back on the mic starting next Tuesday at Oral Roberts. “The Voice of the Shockers” and Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Famer Mike Kennedy joined the team later in the season after the men’s basketball season ended. The pre-game show begins approximately 20 minutes before the first pitch. All WSU home games will be broadcast live on ESPN Plus (WatchESPN.com) with Dennis on the call. Live audio, in addition to live stats, will be available for all games at GoShockers.com/listen and ShockerStats.com.
SERIES HISTORY: The Shockers and Bobcats have met only four times, a single game in San Marcos in 2012 and a three-game series in Wichita in 2015. Texas State won the lone meeting in 2012, 7-4, as part of a a three-game season. opening invitation for the Shockers which also included games against Louisiana and Santa Clara. Wichita State won two of three games in 2015, sweeping a 6-1, 14-1 double before dropping the series finale 7-5. Future major leaguer Sam Hilliard started on the mound for Wichita State in the series finale, taking a no-decision call.
SHOCKING NOTES: Oklahoma went 11-for-11 on stolen base attempts in Tuesday’s win over the Shockers… Wichita State is yet to attempt a stolen base this season after sweeping 67 in 54 games there a year ago… The Shockers had five doubles in the season opener at Louisiana Tech, but only produced three extra hits over the next three games (all doubles)… the Shockers only have yet to hit a triple or home run… Wichita State had three double plays on Tuesday…Sawyre Thornhill and chuck ingram each recorded a two-hit game against Oklahoma… Thornhill had one hit in all four games, joining Xavier Casserille and Brock Rodden as Shockers who reached base in every contest… The WSU pitching fanned 13 Sooners, including eight in just 3.1 innings from three Wichita State relievers.
TEXAS STATE SCOUTING: The Bobcats put a 3-1 record on the line Thursday after opening the 2022 season with four games against Utah Valley at Bobcat Ballpark. Texas State scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to win Game 1 of the season, 5-3, then split a doubleheader Saturday with a 14-4 victory in eight innings and a 5-3 loss. The Bobcats picked up another run-rule win on Sunday, beating UVU, 14-2. Texas State had six home runs in four games, including a pair by Jordan Shuffield. Bobcats pitchers struck out 38 over 34.0 innings, walking 11 while giving up 28 hits. Opening night starter Zeke Wood led the way with 12 punches in just six innings, settling for a no-decision. The Bobcats went 21-36 (9-15) a year ago, despite picking up wins over #9 TCU and Oklahoma. Texas State is selected seventh in Sun Belt’s 12-team preseason poll. Right-hander Trevin Sundgren starts on the mound for Texas State, his second appearance in 2022. He made six starts a year ago, going 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA, but threw five solid innings against Texas on May 4, allowing just three hits and a run in a 4-1 loss. Head coach Steven Trout is in his third season at the helm of San Marcos, although his time with the program dates back to 2009 when he served as a volunteer assistant coach. Trout led the Bobcats to a 14-4 start in 2020 before the rest of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also helped Texas State win the 2019 Sun Belt regular season title as an associate head coach.
MONKEY ON BACK: Wichita State started a 0-4 season for the first time since the 1953 season, a year in which WSU played just 10 games. The Shockers started 0-3 in 2012 and 2013, including three losses at San Marcos in 2012, but in each case beat Oral Roberts in the following game in midweek.
THE PEN IS POWERFUL: After the WSU relievers struggled in the first two games at Ruston, four bullpen arms put on a strong performance in Sunday’s series finale. The combination of Caden Favors, Goodbye Cameron, Creighton Hansen and Connor Holden allowed just three hits and one unearned run in six innings of work, recording five strikeouts along the way. Bye’s performance highlighted the foursome, as the sophomore right-hander struck out all six batters he faced with three punches.
WILLPOWER: Sunday entry Does Stevens suffered the loss on his season debut, allowing four runs over two innings. However, the strong-armed right-hander made an immediate impression with an electric fastball that hit 99 miles per hour on four of his first five offers. Originally committed to Wichita State after high school, Stevens is in his first season with the Shockers after spending two seasons at Iowa Western Community College.
FOR WHOM THE BELL RINGS: Freshman left-handed Payton Tolle put on the best start to the weekend for Wichita State on Saturday afternoon, knocking down six one-run baseball innings on just four hits. No other starter on either side has completed more than five innings in any of the three games. Tolle then made his season debut at DH the following day, going 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
SAVE THIS BASEBALL: Shock Freshmen Xavier Casserille and Jordan Rogers each recorded their first collegiate hit over the weekend, with Casserilla lining up a double in the fourth inning on Friday and Rogers hitting his own double in the fifth inning on Sunday.
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 Arlington, three at Corpus Christi, three at Frisco, three at Houston).
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.
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.
GLOVE OF LOVE: Shortstop Andrew Stuart committed just two errors in 178 chances last season, good for a .989 field percentage. Had he recorded 22 more chances to qualify for the program record books, it would have been the best fielding percentage by a Shocker shortstop in WSU history.
CARRY A BIG STICK: first baseman Garrett Kocis returns to the middle of WSU command after an impressive 2021 campaign. The elder led the nation in home runs before suffering a wrist injury against Houston on April 10. From Feb. 27 to March 20, he went 18 for 43 (.419) with nine home runs and 24 RBIs in just 11 games. His .654 hitting percentage leads all AAC returns.
ON THE BRIDGE: The Shockers continue their trip to Texas with three games at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, starting Friday at 6:00 p.m. against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.