WSU baseball coach Todd Butler previews 2019 season
The Wichita State baseball team will try to end a six-game losing streak this week in an American Athletic Conference series against Central Florida at Eck Stadium. The Shockers play at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday with a 10:30 a.m. start time on Saturday.
WSU had won 11 of 12 games to make a mid-season push for a NCAA Tournament bid, but those hopes have since been dashed by losing a series at Tulane, squandering multiple chances in a 1-0 midweek home loss to Oklahoma State and getting swept at home by Houston last weekend.
The Shockers (18-18, 3-6 AAC) will start Liam Eddy (3-4, 4.50 ERA) on Thursday, Preston Snavely (3-3, 5.55 ERA) on Friday and Tommy Barnhouse (2-2, 5.23 ERA) on Saturday. Sophomore Paxton Wallace has reached base safely in 11 straight games, while senior middle infielders Luke Ritter (.374 average) and Jordan Boyer (.368 average) both rank in the top five in the American in batting average. Junior closer Mitchell Walters (2.42 ERA) has closed out five games and has 24 strikeouts in 22-plus innings.
Softball: Winners of five straight games in conference play, WSU has a chance to once again make a late push to contend for an AAC title. But that likely requires WSU (26-19, 7-5) to sweep last-place East Carolina (20-23, 2-10) in a three-game series starting Thursday at Wilkins Stadium.
The Shockers still control their destiny, as their final two conference series of the season are against the top two teams in Tulsa (28-15, 9-3) next week on the road and then against South Florida (32-15, 10-2) at home to finish the regular season.
Senior Laurie Derrico (38) is two home runs away from moving into first place for career home runs at WSU and three RBIs away from moving into second place all-time. Junior Madison Perrigan was chosen AAC Player of the Week after hitting .428 in five games with four doubles and eight RBIs. She currently leads the AAC in home runs, total bases and walks.
Track and field: The Shockers dominated their home meet, the K.T. Woodman Classic, this past weekend, as WSU recorded 48 personal-best results and had a pair of top-10 all-time results. Zack Penrod improved his 1,500-meter time to 3 minutes, 44.72 seconds, fifth-best all-time at WSU, while freshman Tianna Holmes ripped off a 24.20 in her first 200 for the 10th-fastest time at WSU. The Shockers are next in action this week at the Kansas Relays on Friday and Saturday in Lawrence.
The men’s team has several athletes ranked near the top of the AAC: Penrod has the fastest 1,500 time, Aaron True (237 feet, 8 inches) has the top javelin throw, Cory Martens (201-6) has the top hammer throw, Jared Belardo (49-11) ranks second in triple jump, Rayvon Allen (25-5.25) ranks second in long jump, Pedro Montoya (30:42.13) ranks second in the 10,000, Austin Corley (51.43) ranks third in the 400 hurdles, Mason Buckmaster (6-10.25) ranks third in high jump, Hayden Bugner (16-6.75) ranks third in pole vault, Jeff Ast (201-1) ranks third in javelin, Isaiah Evans (186-0) ranks third in hammer throw and Ben Johnson (6,567) ranks third in the decathlon.
On the women’s team, Winny Koskei (16:23.65) and Rebekah Topham (16:44.84) have the two fastest 5,000 times, while Topham (10:09.94) has the fastest 3,000 steeplechase time and Koskei (33:50.68) ranks second in the 10,000. Senior Kelsey Slawson (50-1.25) ranks second in shot put and fourth in the discus (161-2), while freshman Amiya Anoma (41-4.5) has the fourth-best triple jump.
Tennis: The Wichita State men’s team won 11 of its final 14 matches to earn the No. 5 seed in the AAC Championship this week in Orlando, Florida. The Shockers (15-9) will play fourth-seeded Tulsa (14-11) in the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Friday. WSU defeated Tulsa, 4-3, in the last meeting in February 2018.
WSU’s No. 1 doubles team of Murkel Dellien and Marius Frosa (8-0) has ascended to No. 25 in the national rankings. Dellien (11-9), Haru Inoue (11-5), Frosa (11-9) and Eddie Stoica (9-10) are the top four singles players for WSU in its lineup.
The women’s team (14-9) also earned the No. 5 seed at the AAC Championship in Orlando and defeated No. 12 seed Connecticut, 4-0, Wednesday morning to advance to Thursday’s 11 a.m. quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Tulsa. The Shockers defeated Tulsa, 4-3, in Wichita in January.
WSU’s top player, Senior Fatima Bizhukova, is ranked No. 125 nationally in singles and No. 21 in doubles with her teammate Marta Bellucco. WSU’s singles lineup is rounded out by Sandra Honigova (11-7), Esther Thebault (10-8), Bellucco (2-7), Sarvinoz Saidhujaeva (8-6) and LingWei Kong (8-6).
Bowling: Wichita State senior Sierra Kanemoto advanced to the televised semifinals at the Intercollegiate Singles Championships on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. Her series of 702 and 683 were the two-highest series of the day in the field, as the seventh-seeded Kanemoto will face 14th-seeded Breanna Clemmer of McKendree in Saturday’s semifinals broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Golf: The Shockers wrapped up their season at the AAC Championship last weekend, as the two seniors, Gavrilla Arya and Laine Evans, on the women’s team each finished their careers with top-20 finishes. Evans, a Maize South product, finished with a 54-hole score of 221 to finish in a tie for 12th, while Arya was one stroke behind at 222 to finish tied for 15th.
In the final tune-up of the regular season for the men’s team, sophomore Zac Owens finished runner-up at the Bayou City Collegiate with a 54-hole score of 4-under, 212. It was a season-low 54-hole score for Owens, who was one stroke behind the champion to register his second top-10 finish of the season. WSU wraps up the season at the AAC Championship starting Sunday in Palm Harbor, Fla.