Wichita State softball is off to a good start to the season. The next three weeks offer the Shockers to make it a great start.
WSU (9-2) plays No. 9 Oklahoma (9-4) at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the home opener at Wilkins Stadium. Soon after come games against No. 23 California, No. 13 LSU, as well as Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Texas Tech. Missouri Valley Conference play begins when preseason favorite Drake visits on March 18.
WSU coach Kristi Bredbenner expects the Sooners, defending NCAA champions, to finish the season back in the Women’s College World Series. In March, she sees a chance for WSU to compete.
“If we play our best game, we can go to battle with anybody,” she said. “They haven’t really been firing on all cylinders so far this year. They haven’t quite put it together yet.”
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After three tournament weekends, the Shockers lead the MVC with a .364 batting average and 22 doubles. Their 13 home runs are tied atop the MVC with Bradley and Drake. WSU leads the conference with a 1.87 ERA, largely thanks to senior Katie Malone’s 8-2 record and 1.39 ERA.
Left field Kelli Spring leads WSU with a .500 batting average. Sophomore shortstop Laurie Derrico has four home runs and his hitting .424. First baseman Macklin Hitz also has four home runs.
“We’re doing a lot of things right,” Bredbenner said. “We’re definitely giving ourselves an advantage by scoring first and scoring in plenties.”
Malone threw 29 1/3 of WSU’s 32 innings over five games last weekend. She will start against OU. Bredbenner sees a possibility for freshman Bailey Klitzke to throw more this weekend and more help is on the way.
Senior pitcher Jenni Brooks is expected to return this weekend in the Texas Tech Invitational. She is throwing bullpens and increasing her workload. Bredbenner will limit her to around 50 pitches a day in the tournament.
“We’re not going to push it,” Bredbenner said. “We’re going to be very conservative these next two weekends. For us, it’s all about getting her ready for conference play.”
Standing room only tickets remain for Wednesday's game at $5.
Unbeaten Shockers finish home stand — WSU’s baseball team play Omaha at 3 p.m. Wednesday before heading on its first road trip.
WSU (6-0) is off to its best start since the 2011 team started 7-0. It is one of 13 unbeaten teams.
The Shockers start a seven-game road trip at Louisiana Tech on Friday. They play at Oklahoma and at No. 4 LSU before returning to Eck Stadium.
Inoue honored — WSU men’s tennis player Haru Inoue is the MVC player of the week after defeating No. 11 Christian Sigsgaard of Texas 6-2, 7-5 last week in Austin, Texas.
Neb.-Omaha at WSU baseball
- When: 3 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Eck Stadium
- Records: UNO 1-7, WSU 6-0
- Pitchers: UNO, RH David Flattery (0-1, 13.50 ERA); WSU, RH Codi Heuer (0-0, 6.75)
- Radio: 1330-AM, 98.7-FM
- Online: ESPN3.com