Liberty (Mo.) High baseball coach Kirk Bragg gave the freshman a day off after the kid went 0 for 3 in his first game. He figured the talented player needed a break and somebody else got a chance to play.
That was the last break Nathan Winfrey got in high school. He played in the next game and started a hot streak, something like 13 hits in 16 at-bats, in Braggs memory.
He went on a tear and he hasnt come out since, Bragg said.
Winfrey is one of two position players who recently revealed their oral commitments to Wichita State baseball. He joins Columbine (Colo.) shortstop Michael Burns and three pitchers who plan to sign in November.
Winfrey (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) plays shortstop and third base for Liberty, Missouris Class 4 runner-up in 2011 and third-place team in 2012. He was an All-Class 4 pick as a sophomore and junior.
His swing is very advanced, Bragg said. When he is on time and putting his swing together, it looks like he is hitting off a tee. The ball comes off his bat just a little bit differently than anybody weve had.
That shows in the Liberty record book, where Winfrey is passing many players, including former Shocker Brandon Hall, now a volunteer assistant at WSU. Winfrey owns Libertys career mark with 123 hits, 10 more than Hall. Winfrey also owns records for triples (12), doubles (29), RBI (88) and runs (98). As a junior, he hit .485 with two home runs and 15 doubles.
Winfrey said he also considered Missouri and Kansas State. WSU started recruiting him as a freshman. This summer, assistant coach Jim Thomas watched him hit three home runs in a game and called to set up a visit the next day.
Ive always wanted to go to Wichita State, Winfrey said. Its a baseball school. The stadium is awesome. I loved Coach Gene (Stephenson). He was awesome. I felt like it was a family down there.
Burns (5-9, 165 pounds) got much the same feeling. Former Shocker Mike Lansing helps coach at Columbine, and WSU coaches went to Oklahoma to watch Burns on his recommendation. Burns was also considering playing college football, until he visited WSU. He played quarterback and defensive back for Columbine, which won Colorados Class 5A title.
The people and the program and the school convinced me to go to Wichita, he said.
Burns hit .455 as Columbines leadoff hitter. He likes shortstop, but can also play the outfield.
Im not going to hit 30 bombs, he said. Im kind of a scrappier baseball player. Steal a base. Get into scoring position. I love running the bases.
WSU also has non-binding commitments from Waverly (Neb.) pitcher Sam Tewes, Grayson County (Texas) College reliever Ray Ashford and Pine Creek (Colo.) lefty Reagan Biechler.
The signing period begins Nov. 14. WSU coaches cannot comment until players sign.
Check out seats Fans interested in mens basketball season tickets can come to Koch Arena from 4-7 p.m. on Monday to look at available seats.
The event will kick off sales to the general public. All new buyers will get a chance to win one of 17 prizes, including an autographed basketball, tickets to other WSU sports or a tour of Koch Arena with coach Gregg Marshall.