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Wichita State’s Taylor Doggett being dogged at the plate

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, May 6, 2013, at 4:58 p.m.

Kansas at Wichita State

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Eck Stadium

Records: KU 30-18, WSU 30-21

Pitchers: KU, RH Tanner Poppe (3-3, 4.38 ERA); WSU, RH Kris Gardner (2-5, 4.66)

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

Kansas at Wichita State

•  Poppe, from Girard, struck out seven and held Baker to one hit over seven innings on Wednesday in an 8-0 victory. He pitched five innings against WSU in 2012, allowing two hits and one run in WSU’s 6-4 win in 16 innings.

•  Kansas has won five in a row, a streak that started with a 1-0 win over WSU in 11 innings a week ago. It swept Baylor over the weekend, winning three one-run games. Seven of its past eight games have been decided by one run and the Jayhawks are 4-3 in those games.

•  KU 1B Alex DeLeon is hitting .321 with seven home runs and 39 RBI.

•  The Shockers ranks 25th nationally in fielding percentage (.975), 15th in hits (507) and 41st in walks (204).

•  WSU 2B Tanner Dearman is hitting .438 (14 of 32) in his past 10 games.

Wichita State center fielder Taylor Doggett attracted a lot of attention for walking on Sunday.

Teammates noticed. Coaches noticed. Doggett knows why.

“Two walks in a game, that’s rare,” he said. “I think I’ve only had one walk all year.”

Now it is three after WSU’s 3-0 win at Missouri State in the second game of a doubleheader. Doggett walked on a 3-1 count in the second and a full count in the eighth.

“Shocked,” coach Gene Stephenson said.

Doggett says he isn’t one of hitters who hates to walk. Deep into his sophomore season, he is adjusting his approach at the plate to take advantage of his speed. He went 5 for 10 in three games at Missouri State over the weekend and drove in a team-leading four runs.

“I’ve just been too aggressive at the plate,” he said. “I need to get on base, so I can score runs for our team. That’s my job.”

Doggett, from Lincoln, Neb., is hitting .303 in 89 at-bats. As a freshman, he hit .284 in 34 starts after hitting .379 in early April. Strikeouts, however, brought him down and threatened to do the same this season. Doggett worked with volunteer assistant coach Jon Coyne on widening his stance and swinging with more balance.

“Just being more patient and letting the ball come to me and see the ball a lot deeper into the zone,” Doggett said.

The walks didn’t define Doggett’s weekend. In Saturday’s 3-2 win, he scored two of WSU’s runs and drove in the third. In the third inning, he tripled and scored. In the seventh, he drove in a run with a single. In the ninth, he scored WSU’s go-ahead run after bunting his way on. In Sunday’s second game, his single to right field scored two runs in the ninth inning after MSU intentionally walked Tyler Baker.

“He really competed well at the plate,” Stephenson said. “He was patient. He handled what they gave him.”

His willingness to bunt, walk and hit to the opposite field show a player who is figuring out his role. WSU needs him on base. In batting practice, he works on a two-strike approach of putting the ball in play instead of swinging for the fences.

“He’s so fast, that if he puts the ball in play, he’s got a chance to beat it out,” Coyne said. “In Saturday’s game, he showed how much he can change the game and I think he’s seeing that.”

Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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