Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State’s Jenny Whitledge leans on teammates during recovery from knee injury

Wichita State junior Jenny Whitledge will miss the season after suffering a knee injury in practice.
Wichita State junior Jenny Whitledge will miss the season after suffering a knee injury in practice. The Wichita Eagle

Sometimes it’s Dairy Queen. Maybe a bottle of water or a text that reminds her she’s doing well. Teammates shower her with Bible verses and those help in a different way.

“Maybe I don’t really want anything, but the thought counted,” Wichita State volleyball player Jenny Whitledge said.

Whitledge, a junior outside hitter from Tonganoxie, is almost two weeks out from surgery to heal a devastating injury suffered last month in practice. The routine act of jumping and landing on her left leg ended with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, two torn meniscus and bone bruises to her tibia and femur.

“I guess I just landed on it wrong,” she said. “In my head, I knew I was done. I had never felt a pain like that. It felt like it shifted out and came back in.”

Whitledge, who played in 31 of WSU’s 35 matches last season, is walking with a brace on her leg. The 6- to 8-month recovery process is underway and throughout it she will need teammates and trainer Kat Hollowell to raise her spirits. Roommates Abbie Lehman and Emily Hiebert are at the forefront.

“Abbie is like a shoulder to lean on,” Whitledge said. ““Everyone has definitely gone above and beyond to help me out.”

Jeremiah 29:11 is the Bible verse that sticks with her: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Whitledge would have been a major part of WSU’s plans again this season and her six-rotation versatility and experience will be missed.

“It’s definitely hard to stay optimistic all the time,” she said. “I’m really excited to see what my teammates can do. To know that they’re all looking out for me and their constant support and love that they give me is what keeps me up.”

Whitledge is encouraged with her progress in the first days after surgery. The timetable calls for her to be cleared for some activity in four months. If things go well, she could be in practice after six months. WSU starts individual workouts in January and practices for its spring season in late February. She wants to be ready. She also knows that the most important goal is playing next season.

“The biggest thing right now is that I can get healthy,” she said. “They don’t want to rush it and make it worse.”

Back at it — WSU freshman basketball player C.J. Keyser is participating in individual workouts and said he is cleared for practices.

Stress injuries in his right foot sidelined Keyser for summer workouts and WSU’s exhibition trip to Canada.

Summer job — Baseball America ranked Shocker third baseman Alec Bohm the top prospect in the Coastal Plain League, thanks to his power hitting.

Bohm, a sophomore, hit 11 home runs, third in the league, and led the league with 51 RBIs. He added 12 doubles, a .330 batting average and a .552 slugging percentage, all with a wood bat.

“Bohm is a physical specimen but still moves well in the infield,” Baseball America’s Will Bryant wrote. “The righthanded hitter has begun to refine his power, and it is translating into games.”

Bohm earned a spot on the all-league team, as did Dallas Baptist outfielder Jameson Hannah, Dallas Baptist pitcher Colby Weaver and Indiana State outfielder Tony Rosselli. Evansville second baseman Trey Hair, who hit 13 home runs is on the second team.

Worth noting — Missouri Valley Conference basketball media day and release of the preseason polls is scheduled for Oct. 25 in St. Louis. … Former WSU pitching coach Brent Kemnitz will be inducted into the Perry (Okla.) High School alumni association Honor Roll on Sept. 16. … WSU’s women’s golf team opens its fall schedule on Sept. 12 in the Red Raider Invitational in Austin.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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