Don Lambert didn't have many options when transferring from Baylor's baseball team became necessary after his grandfather, who lived in Kiowa, was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year.
Lambert was only slightly sure of what he was walking into when he joined Wichita State during the fall. The coaches were familiar with him because Lambert participated in WSU camps when he was young.
Facing a difficult transition, Lambert has found comfort in Wichita while dealing with the September death of his grandfather, Harvey Mathews.
"It's been perfect," Lambert said. "It's everything I could ask for. (The coaches) were very understanding during the time he was sick, if I ever needed to go up there. When he passed away they let me take care of everything I needed to take care of up there. After that, it's been everything I could hope for and more."
Lambert, a junior outfielder said he has dedicated the season to his grandfather. The two bonded over many things but baseball was an important part of their relationship. Mathews flew to Lambert's games all over the country and kept track of his progress in the games he couldn't make.
Lambert received a waiver from the NCAA to play at WSU immediately. The regular right fielder, Lambert has found consistent playing time with the Shockers after struggling to earn it at Baylor.
In two seasons in Waco, Lambert started 22 games, batting .190 as a freshman and .222 last season. He's hitting .237 in 11 games but has a .383 on-base percentage and is tied for third on the team with nine RBIs.
"That's the nice thing, too, just consistency," Lambert said. "I feel like the more I play, the more consistent I'll be and the more comfortable I'll be getting."
Lambert gained confidence with a three-run double in WSU's opening series against Niagara, then had a grand slam — his first collegiate home run — in WSU's win over Oral Roberts on Feb. 22.
He can provide power from the bottom of the order, but Lambert's most valuable skills are likely his defense and his speed — he stole home in a WSU win over New Orleans last week.
"It was nice to start off hot a little bit," Lambert said. "My season hasn't gone as well as I need it to, so I need to get on the right track again."
Indoor track and field _ WSU takes three athletes ranked in the top 10 of their events into the women's NCAA indoor championships today.
Track and field coach Steve Rainbolt said he thinks all three have a chance to finish in top eight, to score points, and put WSU in position to finish in the top 25 as a team. WSU's best finish at the NCAA indoor meet is 27th in 2003.
La'Taish Brown competes in the high jump at 4:15 p.m., in College Station, Texas. Aliphine Tuliamuk and Tonya Nero run the 5,000 meters at 7:05.
Tuliamuk, a sophomore, gives WSU an outside chance at a national title. She ranks fifth with a time of 15 minutes, 53.74 seconds. The national leader is Tennessee's Jackie Areson, with a time of 15:38.81. Nero, a senior, ranks 10th with a time of 16:01.69.
" (Tuliamuk) is awfully good, and a high finish would seem likely," Rainbolt said. "To win it, she would really have to have a special race."
Brown is ranked ninth nationally with a best of 21 feet.
"There's a bunch of them packed in there around 21 feet," Rainbolt said. "It's going to be a matter of who is going to be able to hit the board and jump well."
Fans can watch those events in the WSU team room, located in the northwest corner of Cessna Stadium, today. Doors open at 4 p.m.
Back home — WSU's softball team plays its first games at home this weekend.
The Shockers (6-15) play host to Iowa State (11-8) in a doubleheader at noon Saturday and a single game at noon on Sunday.
WSU is trying to snap a four-game losing streak.