Well, actually there haven’t been many Natural State products to play baseball for WSU. Matt Vinson, a shortstop from Alma, Ark., may be the next. He orally committed to WSU recently and plans to sign in November. He also considered Arkansas and Ole Miss, although it’s difficult to know just how badly those schools wanted him.
Most of the best Arkansas high schoolers stay and play for Arkansas, but it’s close enough for WSU to do some recruiting. Pitcher Khol Nanney (from Fayetteville) walked on at WSU and enjoyed a good career. Catcher/third baseman Cody Clark started his career at Arkansas and transferred to WSU during a coaching change. WSU signed outfielder D’Marcus Ingram (North Little Rock), but he went to junior college and is now hitting .236 for Quad Cities of the Class A Midwest League.
Vinson, who quarterbacks Alma’s football team, hit .440 with nine home runs.
- That’s the good news for WSU fans. The bad news is pitcher Logan Hoch is having shoulder problems. He will try rehab for a few weeks. If nothing improves, he will likely have surgery. That’s potentially a big blow to the bullpen, already hit hard by Tyler Fleming’s injury. If Hoch were to miss 2009 (and that is not certain at this point), eight of WSU’s top nine pitchers from last season are lost to the draft, graduation or injury. Tim Kelley (who threw 52 innings) would be the only returner who threw more than 16 innings in 2008.
- School starts Thursday at WSU. Fall practice begins Sept. 1 (be prepared to spend all day at the field, the notice at the baseball office reads) and ends Oct. 15. Last season, the Shockers took Labor Day off. Not this year.
- I got a look at WSU’s tentative schedule for 2009. WSU plays only two Tuesday-Wednesday sets where it could be a significant pitching disadvantage. Last season, WSU played Tuesday and Wednesday against different opponents four times and went 3-5 (rain canceled one Wednesday game after a Tuesday game). That schedule, done in part because WSU needs the gate from playing good teams in good weather, is probably a factor that doesn’t get enough attention when discussing non-conference woes. The Shockers often make the their life difficult by stretching their pitching staff in those midweek games. Would that nightmare loss at Oklahoma (12-11 in 10 innings) been different if WSU had not used three pitchers against Kansas State the night before? OU played one midweek game. In 2009, WSU plays Oklahoma State and Oklahoma back-to-back and Oral Roberts and Kansas back-to-back. They also play two-game mid-week series against Kansas State and Northern Colorado, when both teams should be on similar ground. That schedule gives WSU’s a better shot to win mid-week games.