Wichita State pitching coach Brent Kemnitz expected frustrating moments with freshman Tobin Mateychick.
Like against NAIA Rogers State, when the Hillcats knocked him around for eight hits and six runs.
Kemnitz also expected Mateychick to improve and show his skills as the season progressed. Mateychick has reached that stage, punctuated by six solid innings against Kansas last Tuesday.
"This guy has an unbelievable ceiling," Kemnitz said. "Sometimes guys like that are frustrating, because it's a little rocky in the beginning."
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Mateychick, a 6-foot-5 right-hander from Enid, Okla., is coming off a rocky relief outing in Saturday's 18-8 loss to Illinois State. That performance _ in which he gave up four hits and six runs in 1 2/3 innings _ took him out of his normal mid-week starting spot. He may pitch in relief tonight against Oral Roberts, or be fresh for this weekend's series at Creighton. Kemnitz isn't concerned by Saturday's outing, which came on short rest in mop-up duty.
He considers Mateychick's outing against Kansas more indicative of his promise. He held the Jayhawks to five hits and two runs in WSU's 22-7 victory. He struck out three and walked one. He also looked sharp in relief against Nebraska and Kansas State, compiling a 1.60 ERA with seven strikeouts and two walks in 11 2/3 innings against the three Big 12 schools.
The key to his improvement is a consistent delivery. In high school, Mateychick could throw the ball almost any way he wanted and get outs. When he came to WSU, he needed to lock in one effective delivery.
"Starts in high school, I'd have a different delivery every start," Mateychick said. "I just went and threw."
In college, he is learning how to pitch instead of overpowering overmatched hitters. That requires a focus on every pitch.
"It's 100 percent mental," Mateychick said. "I knew physically I was good enough to play at this level. Mentally, I had ifs."
Kemnitz and Mateychick started to groove his form in Arizona during a road trip. The emphasis is on keeping it simple.
"He did the same thing, he said, with (former Shocker pitcher Mike) Pelfrey," Mateychick said. "Just up, down and to the plate. Making it simple and easy to repeat."
Mateychick's height makes repeating a delivery difficult. The upside makes the work worth it.
"It's tougher for a kid like that that's a big-time prospect to keep everything in sync, as opposed to a kid who's 5-foot-10 and as good as he's ever going to be," Kemnitz said.
With the delivery smoothed out, and Mateychick concentrating on every pitch, his natural talents are showing through.
"His mechanics are now sound, so he can get that out of his brain," Kemnitz said. "He's throwing downhill on his fastball, he's got some bite on his breaking ball, and he's throwing a changeup to right- and left-hand hitters."
Springer, Cooper honored _ WSU designated hitter Preston Springer was named one of Louisville Slugger's national players of the week after going 13 for 23 (.565) with nine runs, five doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI in five games last week.
WSU sophomore Jordan Cooper was named Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the week after throwing eight shutout innings in Friday's 9-0 win at Illinois State. Cooper struck out 10 and allowed four singles.