Wichita State interim baseball coach Loren Hibbs joins us with the season drawing near. We discuss returners such as Brock Rodden and Jordan Rogers and newcomers such as Clark Candiotti and David Herring. We talk about Hibbs’ plans to listen to players and use their ideas, while demanding effort and accountability. We spend a few minutes on 1991 Shocker nostalgia and the nightmares Billy Hall and Chris Wimmer caused pitchers. We wrap up with Hibbs revealing his favorite uniform top and his feelings on how combinations are selected for each game.
Episode description: In this episode of Wichita State University’s “Forward Together” podcast, President Rick Muma talks with Kevin Saal, who was hired as director of athletics at Wichita State University in June. Kevin is leading Shocker athletics during a time of significant change – name, image and likeness, the transfer portal and conference realignment top the list.
The “Forward Together” podcast celebrates the vision and mission of Wichita State University. In each episode, President Rick Muma will talk with guests from throughout Shocker Nation to highlight the people and priorities that guide WSU on its road to becoming an essential educational, cultural, and economic driver for Kansas and the greater good.
Shocker pitchers Robert Cranz and Matt Wilkinson update us on fall baseball. We discuss their uniform preferences, their path to Wichita State and how often it’s appropriate for a coach to call when recruiting. We also talk about teammates who are making a good impression this fall and why Cranz thinks he matured over the summer entering his sophomore season.
Junior infielder Sawyre Thornhill joins the podcast to talk about how the Shockers stayed together and rallied after a tough start to the season. He talks about his one superstition during a hitting streak, how COVID-19 changed his college plans and how he ended up starting in left field. He discusses his love for deer hunting, which Shocker teammate is the best basketball player and why shortstop Carlos Correa is his favorite baseball player.
Wichita State pitchers Spencer Hynes and Connor Holden talk about upcoming season with topics ranging from uniform choices to Major League role models to advice for their freshmen selves. Hynes discusses his love for rodeo and Holden talks about his time as a middle blocker in volleyball. They reveal some of the newcomers fans should watch as the Shockers get started this weekend and their thoughts on pitcher Jace Kaminska following up his strong freshman season.
Brent Kemnitz is one of the inductees into the Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Fame. We talk about his 38-year career as pitching coach, starting with a detailed response from Gene Stephenson that directed him away from a career teaching history and driver’s education in high school to college baseball. Kemnitz details his “Brain” and “Flow” meetings, two essential parts of his work with pitchers. He talks about best wins, toughest defeats and chooses one Shocker to get a crucial strikeout. He discusses selling Shocker football tickets for former AD Ted Bredehoft, low-maintenance pitchers such as Kennie Steenstra, Jordan Cooper and Aaron Shafer and the highest of all high-maintenance pitching stars of the 1989 NCAA champions.
The 1982 Shockers finished second in the College World Series with a blend of powerful hitting and a fearsome pitching staff. Shortstop Dave Lucas, a late addition to the team before that season, quietly played a vital role with his solid defense and hitting. Lucas, coach Gene Stephenson said, was the perfect fit for that team. Lucas talks about his journey to Wichita State, which started in Alaska, and almost detoured to Southern Cal. He discusses the rough start to the season, how the Shockers bounced back and what it was like going to Omaha just as ESPN coverage began highlighting college baseball.
Bryan Oelkers earned NCAA Pitcher of the Year honors in 1982 and was part of one of college baseball’s greatest staffs. The Shockers went to the College World Series in their fifth season under coach Gene Stephenson, led by a powerful offense and the rotation of Oelkers, Erik Sonberg and Don Heinkel. Oelkers talks about how he chose Wichita State after Missouri offered him a walk-on spot, how the Shockers coaching staff turned the Shockers into national contenders and a moment with catcher Charlie O’Brien that foreshadowed his success. Oelkers remembers how his summer in Alaska set the stage for his junior season and discusses a bit of mind trickery from pitching coach Brent Kemnitz that played a part in getting his mind right after a tough sophomore season.
Shocker assistant baseball coach Mike Sirianni joins the podcast to wrap up fall baseball practices. Sirianni discusses fall practices with fewer COVID-19 restrictions and how veterans such as Ross Cadena and Garrett Kocis helped the newcomers. We talk about the unique architecture of Wichita State’s offices, recruiting in Texas and how the pro and college coaching styles mesh on the staff. Sirianni also talks about some key lineup developments in the fall and newcomers such as Payton Tolle, Brock Rodden and Xavier Casserilla. His World Series pick? The Atlanta Braves.
Wichita State baseball freshmen Payton Tolle and Xavier Casserilla prepare listeners for the Shocker World Series (starting at 1 p.m. Saturday) with their takes on college baseball. They talk about how they chose Wichita State, which teammates gave them the best advice and who they would have drafted to start their team. They also discuss their favorite big-league players, why baseball is their top sport and which Shockers fans should keep an eye on during the series.