New Wichita State softball coach Kristi Bredbenner won 76 percent of her games at Emporia State. To some, that raises a question — what does that mean for an NCAA Division I school?
Abby Hughes is more qualified to answer that question than almost anybody. She played three seasons at NCAA Division II Emporia State after spending her freshman season at Nebraska.
"She's not going to have any problem," Hughes said. "She knows how to be successful. My Emporia teams could have easily beat a lot of the Division I teams I played my freshman year."
Shocker softball fans can count on this: Bredbenner isn't going to change her approach. It worked at ESU, where she finished as NCAA Division II runnerup in 2006 and 2008. And Bredbenner isn't a newcomer to Division I. She spent three seasons as an assistant at UC Santa Barbara.
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Bredbenner's approach starts with organization and discipline. She is big on drills in practice, and if they're not done correctly, the drill starts over. Players, Hughes said, will know days, sometimes weeks, in advance what the schedule is for practices and trips. She is big on communication — Hughes said she received daily texts. And when it says wear black tops and white pants for practice, players better show up properly dressed. Players should also show up 15 minutes early for meetings and weights. Bredbenner time means being early.
"She likes things done her way, and she's not afraid to let people know she likes things done her way," said Hughes, a shortstop from Olathe. "That had a lot to do with why we were so successful. She didn't let little things slide."
That discipline is Bredbenner's way of building a team. Her practices are typically short and intense.
"A lot of structure," Bredbenner said. "You knew what to expect, and you knew what was expected. We're a big believer in the mental game, having confidence and routines."
Bredbenner's style worked for Hughes. The discipline didn't make things dreary.
"She made my college experience better than I could have imagined," Hughes said. "She's a coach that will go above and beyond. She always does it with a smile."
That, too, is an important part of Bredbenner's coaching. Constructive criticism should be balanced with praise.
"I try to create as much as a positive environment as I can," she said. "With females, they don't really take too kindly to constant criticism. It's important to recognize what they're doing right, and they leave practice knowing what they accomplished."
One item will change as Bredbenner moves from ESU to WSU. Her mother will need to make a new jersey for Ali, the family's 10-year-old boxer who sometimes comes to games. Ali lives with Bredbenner's parents because of a coach's travel schedule. When Ali does come to Wilkins Stadium, she will be wearing WSU colors.
"She loves that dog," Hughes said.
On the fast track — The Florida Marlins picked WSU lefty Charlie Lowell in the sixth round of the amateur baseball draft last week.
He is already on their radar as a pitcher who might get to the majors more quickly than most college pitchers.
"Lowell... can go bullpen or start," said Stan Meek, director of scouting, in a conference call with reporters. "If he goes to the bullpen, we've seen him up to 95 (mph)... and, again I think as a bullpen piece could move a little quicker."
Meek is a former coach at Oklahoma and lives in Norman. The Marlins picked lefty Adam Conley of Washington State in the second round.
"Both of those guys, to me, are really good strike-throwers and they come from good programs in Wichita State and Washington State," Meek said. "So they know how to pitch. They've been around. So I think those two guys, especially being left-handed, those two guys — if there are two guys who can move quickly, it would be those two."
Summer trips — WSU baseball players don't take much of a break. Summer baseball has started. Here's where they're playing:
Anchorage (Alaska): OF Kevin Hall.
Bourne (Mass.): 1B Johnny Coy.
El Dorado: P Kris Gardner, IF Josh Halbert, OF Don Lambert, P Chance Sossamon.
Haysville: IF Walker Davidson, P Grant Muncrief,
Klamath Falls (Ore.): P Aaron LaBrie.
Liberal: P Cale Elam, OF Micah Green, P Josh Smith.
Rochester (Minn.): P Brian Flynn.
Santa Barbara (Calif.): OF Garrett Bayliff, P T.J. McGreevy, P Albert Minnis, P Mitch Mormann,
Topeka: P Zach Beringer, P Foster Vielock.
Valley Center: C Bob Arens, IF Tyler Coughenour, P Dillon Kerans, OF Zach Stucky.
Welcome to Peoria — New Bradley men's basketball coach Geno Ford takes over a program that seemed to be jinxed in recent seasons.
The Braves couldn't get through a season without some sort of misfortune, usually injury-related.
Before Ford started, he lost his best player. Guard Sam Maniscalco, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, transferred to Illinois.
Last week, center Will Egolf tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing. Egolf, who averaged 8 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, missed most of the 2008-09 season with a similar injury to the knee. His availability for the 2011-12 season is unknown.
Meanwhile, Ford is hoping for good news on forward Taylor Brown. He began light workouts last week.
Brown, who averaged 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2009-10, sat out last season as a precautionary measure to a heart condition. The school benched Brown in November from physical activity while it gathered information on his condition.
"Everybody knows how hungry I am to get back out there," Brown told the Peoria Journal-Star. "But we'll take it one day at a time. There will be precautions with the heart, but I don't want to hurt something else like pull a hamstring or twist an ankle."
Worth noting — Former Shocker basketball player Matt Braeuer joined Mark Turgeon's staff at Maryland as video coordinator.... Croatian tennis player Tomislav Gregurovic signed a letter of intent with WSU's men's team. Gregurovic is WSU's third signee, joining Croatian Gordan Brkic and Kester Black of Scotland.