WICHITA, Kan. (Wichita State Athletics) – Wichita State baseball is slated to begin the 2020 season — the first under new head coach Eric Wedge — with a three-game series at Northwestern State Feb. 14-16 in Natchitoches, La. The series opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at Brown-Stroud Field, with game two at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, and the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16.
SHOCKER BASEBALL ON THE RADIO: KFH Radio 97.5 FM and 1240 AM will serve as the flagship home for Wichita State baseball throughout the 2020 season. Former WSU standout pitcher (1991-94), and Pizza Hut Shockers Sports Hall of Famer Shane Dennis will have the call beginning with Friday’s season opener. Coverage will include a pregame and postgame show. “The Voice of the Shockers” and Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Famer Mike Kennedy will join the broadcast when not covering Wichita State men’s basketball. All audio broadcasts will also be available online at GoShockers.com/listen.
WHERE TO WATCH: The three-game series at Northwestern State will offer live video, available at www.NSUDemons.com/watch.
THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA: Friday’s series and season opener against the Demons will mark the official debut of new Wichita State head coach Eric Wedge. A former Shocker All-American catcher and member of the 1989 national championship team, Wedge took the reins of the WSU baseball program in the summer of 2019.
SERIES HISTORY: The Shockers and Demons have met just four times in program history, with the first meeting occurring in Mobile, Ala., back in 2002. WSU is a perfect 4-0 in the series. The last time the two teams met on the diamond was during the 2005 season, with Wichita State sweeping a three-game series in Wichita, 11-0, 4-0 and 8-7.
BACK ON THE DIAMOND: Entering the 2020 campaign, Wichita State returns six position starters and eight pitchers from last season’s team that posted an overall record of 28-31 … 2019 starters returning include senior outfielder Jacob Katzfey (.276 avg., 56 H, 8 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 11 BB, 13 SB), junior infielder Paxton Wallace (.256 avg., 58 H, 13 2B, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 20 BB), junior catcher Ross Cadena (.248 avg., 50 H, 8 2B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 20 BB, .986 fld. pct.), junior outfielder Hunter Gibson (.238 avg., 41 H, 6 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 24 BB), sophomore infielder Jack Sigrist (.272 avg., 25 H, 4 2B, 9 RBI, 17 BB, 10 SB) and sophomore outfielder David VanVooren (.281 avg., 25 H, 8 2B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB) … The Shockers also welcome back key position players, junior first baseman Garrett Kocis (.306 avg., 11 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB) and senior infielder Alex Jackson (.216 avg., 24 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 12 RBI, 9 BB, 3 SB) … On the mound, Wichita State brings back starting pitchers junior right-hander Liam Eddy (5.04 ERA, 5-8, 80.1 IP, 88 H, 48 R, 45 ER, 29 BB, 46 SO), senior right-hander Preston Snavely (6.21 ERA, 3-4, 66.2 IP, 62 H, 48 R, 46 ER, 46 BB, 62 SO) and senior right-hander Tommy Barnhouse (4.72 ERA, 2-2, 47.2 IP, 48 H, 38 R, 25 ER, 25 BB, 41 SO), and relief arms junior right-hander Jacob Lindemann (4.20 ERA, 1-0, 1 SV, 15.0 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 11 BB, 14 SO), sophomore right-handers Aaron Haase (4.68 ERA, 3-2, 32.2 IP, 33 H, 19 R, 17 ER, 23 BB, 38 SO), Calvin Marley (4.15 ERA, 0-1, 17.1 IP, 16 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 9 BB, 9 SO) and Connery Peters (6.25 ERA, 1-3, 40.1 IP, 41 H, 30 R, 28 ER, 32 BB, 39 SO), and redshirt sophomore right-hander Ryan Stuempfig (6.97, 1-1, 20.2 IP, 19 H, 17 R, 16 ER, 21 BB, 13 SO) … Eddy ranked 10th in The American Athletic Conference in innings pitched in 2019 at 80 1/3.
NEW FACES: The Shockers welcome 13 newcomers in 2020, including eight freshmen and five junior college transfers. Incoming junior college transfers include senior catcher Chris Diehl (Arizona Western), junior right-handed pitchers Jake Hamilton (Rose State College), Foster Gifford (Dodge City CC) and Aaron Bechtel (Coffeyville CC), and junior left-handed pitcher Trevor Munsch (McLennan CC) … New freshmen position players are infielders Couper Cornblum, Blake Marsh, Derek Shaver and Cade Clemons, while new freshmen pitchers include Kyle Wilson (RHP), Beau Leonards (LHP), Creighton Hansen (RHP) and Connor Oliver (LHP).
PRESEASON HONORS: Paxton Wallace was selected to the American Athletic Conference’s preseason all-conference team. Wallace, who hails from Greenbrier, Ark., belted a team-high-tying nine homers, going along with 13 doubles and 35 RBI in 2019.
NOTABLE APPROACHING MILESTONES: Liam Eddy enters 2020 just six strikeouts away from 100 for his career at Wichita State. Eddy, a junior from Brighton, Colo., has 94 Ks in 146 innings of work going into the season.
NOTABLE STREAKS: Hitting: Jack Sigrist and David VanVooren are riding five-game hitting streaks going into 2020, while Jacob Katzfey has a hit in three straight contests dating back to last season … On-Base: Garrett Kocis has reached safely in 10 consecutive games, while Jack Sigrist has successfully reached in nine contests entering 2020.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN STATE: The Northwestern State Demons out of the Southland Conference are coming off a 2019 season that saw them post an overall record of 30-25 and a conference mark of 15-15, finishing seventh in the Southland final standings … The Demons returns five starting position players from 2019, including preseason second-team All-Southland Conference outfielder Tyler Smith (.269 avg., 31 R, 47 H, 6 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 26 BB) … NSU is picked to finish fifth in the Southland Conference preseason poll … Northwestern State is under the leadership of fourth season head coach Bobby Barbier (Northwestern State, 2006).
NEW DIGS: The Shockers will play their first game in a newly renovated Eck Stadium, Home of Tyler Field, February 21 against Texas Southern. The renovations were completed in January, 2020, and include a 10,000-square foot performance facility that features a strength and conditioning center, two athletic training rooms, student-athlete locker room, coaches’ locker room, media room, refueling station, classroom, offices for coaches and staff, equipment and laundry room, a new dugout on the third base side and a ticket office. The facility was privately funded by donors of Wichita State University. As part of a separate project, new, Major Play artificial turf was installed on Tyler Field in December, 2019.
ON DECK: Wichita State hosts Texas Southern for its home-opening series Feb. 21-23 at Eck Stadium.