Gillaspie hopes to provide options for Shocker baseball

09/29/2012 6:30 PM

09/29/2012 6:32 PM

Casey Gillaspie is volunteering to play right field, and Wichita State baseball coaches are listening. He also volunteered to pitch, and is waiting for them to get back to him.

“I’ve always been jokingly harping on them since I got here to let me pitch and let me play outfield,” he said. “It gets boring over there at first (base).”

Fall is the time to experiment. Coaches know Gillaspie can play first base. Might he be adequate enough defensively in right field that a switch helps the Shocker offense? Gillaspie is proving worthy of a look in the outfield. He played there regularly in high school and a few games during the summer in the Northwoods League. He played a lot of long toss to strengthen his arm and it shows when he throws out runners in practices.

“He has a great arm and he is really accurate,” senior first baseman Johnny Coy said. “It’s really surprised me how accurate he was in the outfield. He looks like he’s going to be pretty comfortable out there.”

Coach Gene Stephenson sees enough potential to stick with the experiment. Gillaspie plays first base and right field in practices. Fans who attend the fall scrimmage series will mostly see him at first base, although he may get a few chances in right.

“He goes and gets the ball fine,” Stephenson said. “He’s got a really good arm.”

Playing Gillaspie in right is worth considering as a way to perk up the offense. Coy, WSU’s top hitter, can play first base. He and Gillaspie shared that job most of 2012, with one in the DH role. That would free up the designated hitter for another productive bat. Junior outfielder Garrett Bayliff, who has missed most of the past two seasons recovering from an ankle injury, might find a home as DH if he is healthy in the spring. Serving as the DH could keep Bayliff’s bat in the lineup while reducing the risk of another injury.

“I talked to Gene a little bit when I got here after summer and said ‘Try me out there, if we can get more bats in the lineup,’ ” Gillaspie said. “That would be nice for us, because we struggled with that a little bit last year.”

Gillaspie, a sophomore from Omaha, would not be in position to change positions without a summer makeover. He is in better shape, quicker and stronger. He weighs around 235 pounds, five more than his freshman season. That also is a good signal for Gillaspie’s offensive numbers. He hit .274 with eight home runs and 10 doubles in 2012. A strong summer in the Northwoods League means better numbers are expected next spring. Gillaspie hit .332 with 12 home runs (fourth in the league) in 62 games with a wood bat for the Eau Claire (Wis.) Express.

“I pretty much lost a little fat and gained a little muscle,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get a little bit quicker and faster and stronger and kind of separate myself from other people.”

Start the season at lunch — WSU’s annual Tip-off Luncheon, featuring men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall and women’s coach Jody Adams, is Nov. 7 in the Koch Arena practice gym.

Tickets are $25, or $60 for three Shocker Luncheons, all of which will feature Marshall and other coaches and athletes.

For information, call 978-3267. Deadline is Nov. 2.

•  Tickets for the men’s game against Southern Mississippi on Dec. 22 at Intrust Bank Arena go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

Tickets prices are $17, $29, $39, $67, $99, $152. The game is not part of WSU’s season-ticket package.

Tickets are available through selectaseat.com and Select-A-Seat outlets and the Intrust Bank Arena box office.

Tuliamuk wins again — Senior Aliphine Tuliamuk won the women’s 5K race Saturday at the Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla., in 17 minutes, 1.77 seconds. She has won all three of her races this season. Tuliamuk finished 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Risper Kimaiyo of Texas-El Paso, who was an All-American last year.

The WSU women placed second behind Oklahoma State in the 11-team field. Kaitlyn McLeod (18:21.46) was 12th, Samantha Shukla (18:32.93) was 15th and Elida Bailon (18:39.27) was 19th.

The WSU men finished fifth of 19 teams. Sterling Spencer (25:10.58) was the Shockers’ top runner, finishing 12th.

Worth noting — Evansville earned the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Academic Award with a 3.28 grade-point average compiled by its 214 athletes during the 2011-12 school year.… Southern Illinois men’s basketball player Diamond Taylor is suspended indefinitely after being charged with driving under the influence.

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