Wichita State pitching coach Brent Kemnitz is normally laid-back during fall scrimmages. After their outing is finished, he calls each pitcher to a spot near the dugout for a quiet conference.
What he saw from junior Tobin Mateychick earlier this fall caused him to break protocol. He wanted to see Mateychick pitch to his potential every time, even in a September scrimmage.
“He had a so-so outing his first outing of the fall and I got on him pretty hard,” Kemnitz said. “I said ‘It’s time. The whole projection, gifted, talented, someday you’re going to be the deal — the time is now.’ ”
Mateychick, a right-hander from Enid, Okla., remembers the animated chat..
“It was one of those days you’re struggling,” he said. “He knew what he was doing. He knows how I react. It got me working and keeping the ball down and that’s the key for me.”
Since then, Mateychick’s fall progressed smoothly. He is throwing his changeup for strikes, even behind in the count, and keeping hitters off his fastball. After taking the summer off his arm is rested and his curveball is breaking more sharply. In two fall series starts for Gold, Mateychick allowed one run and four hits in 10 innings with five strikeouts and five walks. While Kemnitz would like Mateychick to eliminate some of those walks, he is pleased with the development of his off-speed pitches and his delivery.
“He’s shown consistency,” Kemnitz said. “If he pitches the way he’s pitched in these two (fall series) games, he’ll be the kind of guy we all hoped for.”
Mateychick made a fast recovery from elbow surgery to make five starts, one in a Missouri Valley Conference game, last season. He went 4-1 with a 5.01 ERA. The elbow is no longer a shadow in his mind, he said, and he continues to throw without pain. Without the pain that bothered him early in his WSU career, he is able to repeat his delivery and hit spots more consistently.
“I’m excited about this team,” he said. “We’ve got some fire and we’ve got a lot of guys that can play and everybody wants to be here.”
The series continues at 6:30 Sunday night at Eck Stadium. Black leads 2-1. Admission is a can of food for the Kansas Food Bank.
“We were all glued to the TV, watching the whole thing,” Wiggins said. “It opens your eyes a lot.”
“Broke,” a 90-minute show based on a Sports Illustrated article from 2009, detailed money problems for professional athletes. According to Sports Illustrated, 78 percent of former NFL players are bankrupt or in financial difficulty two years after retirement. The story estimates 60 percent of NBA players are out of money five years after retirement.
“I was kind of surprised, but not really,” Early said of the statistics. “You see it every day, in the world we live in, how people have these high-maintenance lifestyle which they try to maintain regardless of their income. It was sad to see.”
The show impressed the importance of a college education on Wiggins, who said he realizes his legs aren’t going to last forever.
“You need something to fall back on after basketball,” he said. “You need something so you can start your own business, a business with a family. Something.”
Early learned the importance of being able to say “No.”
“There are going to be people that come in your life that are going to act like they knew you from way back when and claim to be your cousin and your family member when you start getting that shine,” he said. “You’ve got to take notice and know how to play each situation.”
In most cases, that means the high-profile school will soon tell the low-profile school that “something suddenly came up” and the series is over. Not Sooners coach Santiago Restrepo, at least not yet.
“I am just so thankful that Santiago takes us every year,” Lamb said. “A lot of mid-major coaches can’t get that consistent schedule from the big boys and it’s really, really nice.”
Restrepo is proud of playing tough schedules and playing WSU annually — in the spring and fall — is good for power rankings and good for travel. Lamb hopes he sticks with that philosophy.
“We need the regional match, we need the RPI match,” he said. “I’m grateful we get the opportunity.”
Driskill, however, in recent matches earned the right to play through mistakes. She rebounded with five kills — one error — on 14 swings in the final two sets to help the Shockers win 3-1.
“She’s gotten better,” Lamb said. “It wasn’t until a month into the season Ashlyn starting controlling what we call bad ball swings and being less reckless and hitting with more range. That has made it more difficult to get her out of there.”
Driskill recorded nine or more kills in her past six matches. Hitting .286 and .304 in back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference matches show what she is capable of as one of WSU’s best scorers on the left. Early in the season, Lamb tried several players on the left before settling on Driskill and putting Sam Sanders on the right.
“There are players on our team who think that they make a couple of mistakes and they’re out,” Lamb said. “There’s positions on our team where we have depth, we have somebody right behind you. If you’re going to make mental mistakes, we’ll try something else.”