Mitch Caster, a three-year member of the Wichita State baseball team from Goddard, was killed in a car accident early today in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Lt. Jeff Miller of the West Des Moines police department said Caster, 21, was driving south on I-35 in an SUV at about 12:15 a.m. when it crossed the median and hit a northbound semi. The driver of the truck was not injured.
"At this point, the crash remains under investigation," he said. ""It's a tragic accident."
Caster pitched two innings for the Rochester team in Sunday's Northwoods League championship game in Wisconsin. Eau Claire defeated Rochester to win the best-of-3 series.
"I'll always remember he had one of the biggest smiles you could ever have," former Shocker teammate Ryan Jones said. "He was a great teammate to have. It is definitely hard to lose somebody like that."
"We are all deeply saddened over the tragic loss of Mitch Caster," WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. "Our entire team is devastated. Mitch was a fine young man and great teammate. The memories that every team member and coach has of him will always be cherished."
At WSU, he started his career as an outfielder and picked up pitching duties as a sophomore and junior. As a junior, he made eight appearances and went 0-1. He started 32 games as a sophomore, mostly in the outfield, and hit .231. He also made five relief appearances. He started nine games as a freshman.
"I loved Mitch," WSU pitching coach Brent Kemnitz said. "He was a guy that was fun to be around. It takes the air out of all of us."
While Caster did not pitch much as a junior, Kemnitz believed he had a chance to contribute more in his final season as a Shocker.
"Mitch was very competitive, very driven," Kemnitz said. "He had a great arm, and I think he had a bright future. I was really excited to get him back and get to work."
Caster played at Goddard High, where he was the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Player of the Year and an All-Metro pick in 2006.