Wichita State pitcher Sam Tewes could return to the mound by mid-June after recovering from a dislocated knee cap.
Tewes injured his right knee in last week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. He wrenched the knee when he reached across his body to try to field a bouncing ball in front of the mound. He left the game against Southern Illinois riding in the back of a cart and used crutches later in the day.
“He’ll be rehabbing for about four weeks,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “It was not as bad as we thought when it occurred.”
Tewes, a sophomore-to-be, went 8-3 with a 3.27 ERA as a freshman and will be WSU’s top returning pitcher in 2015. Tewes said he plans to join the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League when he is done with his rehab. It is not an injury that requires surgery. Tewes said the kneecap has popped out two or three times previously, usually quickly returning to its proper position. Thursday’s injury was much more painful.
“I was pretty concerned,” Tewes said. “It hurt worse and it felt a little bit different.”
New additions — WSU recently added two position players to its incoming class.
Oxnard (Calif.) College sophomore catcher/first baseman Ryan Tinkham (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) hit .360 with four home runs, 10 steals and a .480 on-base percentage. He was named All-State in Southern California as a designated hitter.
Center fielder Keenan Eaton (6-1, 205) visited WSU on Monday and signed on Wednesday. He is a senior at Parker (Colo.) Chaparral High and said he hit around .350 with 20 RBIs, 20 walks and one home run in 18 games. Chaparral advanced to the final eight in Class 5A, the largest in Colorado.
“I was pitched around most of the year,” he said. “I saw limited fastballs.”
As a junior, he hit .320 with three home runs.
“A lot of people say I'm a five-tool player,” he said. “I would agree. I love to hit.”
Eaton was committed to Vanderbilt, but within the past two weeks the amount of money his family owed in addition to his scholarship increased significantly.
“The money we thought we were getting changed,” he said. “I didn't want to make my parents work that hard.”
Eaton met Butler in December at a camp in Parker. When he decided Vanderbilt wasn’t an option, he contacted WSU to see if it had any openings. He said he also considered UCLA and Long Beach State.
“I think Coach Butler has the program back on track and we'll be able to do some things and get back to Omaha in a few years,” Eaton said. “He made it a real easy decision.”
Eaton will join an outfield that includes returners Daniel Kihle, Tanner Dearman and Mikel Mucha, who sat out most of the season with a broken leg. Freshman Michael Burns redshirted.
“(Eaton) is an athletic outfielder who can run,” Butler said.
Roster changes — Seven Shockers will not return next season, Butler said, as he made cuts to keep WSU at the NCAA limit of 27 players on scholarship or as players decided to transfer in search of more playing time
The most prominent departure is pitcher Kris Gardner, a junior who started nine games and compiled a 2-5 record with a 5.45 ERA. Gardner earned Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball when he went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA. As a sophomore, he started 13 games and went 3-6 with a 3.45 ERA.
Gardner, from Coppell, Texas, said he plans to get his MBA at a school in Texas. He isn’t sure if he will continue to play baseball. He said he leaves the program on good terms.
“I will always appreciate everything that was done for me here,” he said. “I'll always be a Shocker.”
Sophomore pitcher Garrett Brummett, son of 1989 College World Series MVP Greg Brummett, is also not returning. Garrett Brummett went 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA, earning Freshman All-American honors, in 2013. His role was reduced this season and he went 1-1 with a 13.89 ERA. Junior second baseman Zair Koeiman, who hit .225 in 27 games, junior infielder Cody Bobbitt, sophomore outfielder Joe Haddox, freshman pitchers Mitch McIntyre and Austin Gardner, Kris Gardner’s younger brother, will also not return.
“It’s a tough part of the job,” Butler said. “The tough part is the 27. That’s where the game has changed a lot. That’s where you see more players going to many different schools across the country because you can only have 27 players on scholarship.”
Schools are allowed to add eight walk-ons to the roster and Butler said he plans to use all of those next season.
Summer destinations — Where returning Shockers will play this summer: P Ray Ashford, Liberal; P Reagan Biechler, Terre Haute; P Austin Bright, Kansas Cannons; OF Michael Burns, Hays; OF Tanner Dearman, Lakeshore (Wis.); OF Daniel Kihle, Hyannis (Mass.); C Brandon Kimbrel, Junction City; INF Tanner Kirk, Liberal or El Dorado; P T.J. Looney, San Diego Force; OF Mikel Mucha, El Dorado; INF Wes Phillips, Kansas Cannons; P Sam Tewes, Cotuit (Mass).