It was easy for Wichita State baseball coaches to tell when third baseman Nate Goro wasn't playing. His sagging body language told them all they needed to know.
Like many freshmen, Goro found the mental adjustment to college more difficult than the physical one.
"When I first came out to play, I was timid," Goro said. "Sometimes you've got to fall down before you can realize what you need to do."
Goro played sparingly early in the season. When he did get a chance to play, he didn't take advantage. He started at Arizona and committed two errors in one inning.
"You have days where you fall flat on your face," he said. "You've got to learn from those experiences and move forward."
Goro did just that to earn the starting job at third. WSU (21-10) takes a three-game road win streak to Nebraska (16-16) tonight.
Assistant coach Jim Thomas told Goro to quit moping, keep working and stay positive, even when he wasn't in the lineup. Gradually, Goro's body language improved. Soon after, he became a regular in the lineup.
"He showed up every day like he wanted to play," WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. "He showed up every day like this mattered to him."
That change in attitude shows on the field. Goro has started 10 of the past 13 games at third. Even after an 0-for-3 day on Sunday against Southern Illinois, he is hitting .320 with two home runs. In WSU's last 15 games, he is hitting .359.
"When he got his opportunity, he was much more prepared," Stephenson said.
Goro, from Wildwood, Mo., used the bench time to his advantage.
"You get to learn a lot from just watching," he said. "Baseball is still baseball. It's a kid's game. You've got to play it like that."
Stephenson will be watching to see how Goro rebounds from Sunday's performance, which included two strikeouts. It is easy for a young player to fall into a slump after a bad day.
"When you come to the ballpark, no one should ever know whether you're going good or bad," Stephenson said. "The guys who are the most successful, generally, are those who are able to clear their minds and be genuinely excited — and I emphasize genuinely — about playing the game they love."
Lowell taking it slow _ WSU left-hander Charlie Lowell will try to throw again today as he deals with a strained forearm.
Lowell's first two attempts at soft tosses of about 30 feet did not go well. He abandoned the experiments on Sunday and Monday after about five or six throws.
"It didn't feel right," he said. "I'm not trying to rush back into anything."
Stephenson said Lowell, a sophomore, will undergo an MRI as soon as possible. He has been out since April 4 at Evansville, when he took himself out of the game in the first inning.