Kansas State catcher Tyler Moore took a 94-mph fastball to his left forearm last week and immediately went to the hospital for X-rays.
It was a scary moment, one that Moore admits left him wondering if he could continue playing baseball this season.
“Getting hit up and in with a fastball like that, I was pretty afraid,” Moore said. “When I was in the dugout, it bruised up right away.”
Still, he was behind the plate three days later when K-State began a Big 12 series against Baylor. He didn’t miss a game.
“Luckily we got to the hospital pretty quick and my X-rays were negative,” Moore said. “It is part of the position. Sometimes you get hit with foul balls off the toe or arm. You just have to play through it.”
That toughness has helped Moore become a leader for the Wildcats. A senior from Shawnee, he is the team’s second-leading hitter, batting .343 with 23 runs, 31 RBIs and three homers. He is also one of the team’s top defensive players.
That combination earned him a spot on the Johnny Bench Award watch list. He is one of 13 players nominated for college baseball’s top honor for catchers, given by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.
“I was a little surprised, honestly,” Moore said of the nomination, “but it was a good surprise. I am just trying to help the team out any way I can.”
Moore was solid as a junior, but he has taken his game to another level as a senior.
“He has been more consistent from an offensive standpoint,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “Last year he was pretty streaky. When he was good, he was really, really good. But when he was bad, it was a struggle. He has been able to fight through those times when he hasn’t been so good and still do something productive.”
Moore attributes his improvement to a mixture of experience and assertiveness. In the past, he didn’t know what to expect as a starting catcher. Now he does. That has helped him become more aggressive.
He has been at his best recently, and so has K-State. The Wildcats got off to an 0-8 start in conference games, but have rallied to win five of their past seven in the Big 12. They have won back-to-back series, taking two of three from Baylor at home over the weekend.
“It’s just about slowing the game down,” Moore said. “It feels like the last few weeks we have been playing a little better, but we had a stretch there where everyone was speeding up and during those hard times you just have to slow down and play the game the way you know how.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
Kansas State at Wichita State
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Eck Stadium
Records: KSU 18-22, WSU 15-25
Radio: KFH, 1330-AM
TV: Cox 22