Wichita State softball coach Mike Perniciaro is trying many lineups this fall. Topping the list of encouraging items is his belief that three freshmen are ready to contribute.
"We've seen some people in different roles, in different spots than they're accustomed to," he said. "We're loaded with talent from an athletic standpoint. But finding the right pieces of the puzzle to put together is always a challenge."
WSU wraps up fall practices with two scrimmages against Emporia State beginning at 6 tonight at Wilkins Stadium. Perniciaro will get another look at infielders Sammie Shook and Hayley Temple and pitcher Katie Armagost, freshmen who are playing well.
Shook, from Derby, is playing third base and shortstop and showing doubles power at the plate. Temple, from Mesa, Ariz., is playing first, the lone position WSU is without a returner, and second base. Armagost, from Bishop Carroll, hasn't allowed a run in six innings in two scrimmages. She is the leading candidate to be WSU's No. 2 pitcher.
Shook "has tons of power," Perniciaro said. "We're trying to put a harness on that little bit. She likes to pull the ball a lot; and we're trying to develop her into a spray-type hitter, use the whole field."
The newcomers are pushing the returners for playing time, a development that delights Perniciaro.
"You can tell during practices... the returners are thinking 'Wow, I better come out and play and play hard every day,'" he said.
Sophomore Kasha Kolb will start tonight's first game. Armagost will start the nightcap.
Fall out — Wichita State's volleyball team dropped out of the coaches poll for the first time since the 2008 preseason ranking.
The Shockers, No. 25, last week, received 22 votes. They spent 15 weeks in the poll in 2008 and seven this season. WSU (12-3, 3-2 Missouri Valley Conference) split matches last weekend, losing 3-1 at Creighton and winning 3-0 at Drake.
The loss at Creighton followed a 3-2 loss at Missouri State a week earlier. It marked the first time the Shockers dropped back-to-back conference matches since 2003.
WSU plays host to Evansville on Friday and Southern Illinois on Saturday at Koch Arena.
Missouri State and Northern Iowa also received votes. PennState is No. 1, followed by Texas, Washington, Hawaii and Minnesota.
In the region — WSU's women's cross country team is ranked No. 8 in the Midwest Region coaches poll.
The Shockers won the Sean Earl Loyola Lakefront Invitational on Saturday. Illinois State (No. 11), Bradley (No. 12), Missouri State (No. 14) and Southern Illinois (No. 15) are also ranked.
WSU in eighth — WSU golfer Gretchen Huhnerkoch shot a first-round 75 to join an eight-way tie for third in the ORU Shootout in Tulsa.
WSU is eighth in the 13-team field with a 318. Hannah Martin carded an 80 to tie for 28th. The tournament finishes today.