WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Wichita State baseball’s return to the field is only a month away and may look a bit unfamiliar to some fans. Not because of the faces on the field – in fact they return their top three batting average leaders and two lowest ERA starting pitchers – but it will be a new head coach at the helm.
Former Shocker outfielder and assistant coach Loren Hibbs was named the interim head coach after former head coach Eric Wedge’s departure from the program in December. Hibbs was formerly the University of North Carolina-Charlotte head coach before returing to Wichita State as an assistant in 2019. While taking over the reigns just before the spring season begins is less than ideal, Hibbs said he is taking the cards he is given and running with them.
“It’s been challenging, but again we’re going to do what’s best for Wichita State baseball,” Hibbs said. “We’re going to do what’s best for our players.”
Although the option was available for players to transfer out after Wedge’s departure if they chose, all players stayed put and decided to put their trust in their new head coach.
“We’re a family. We came together and we’re battling through it,” WSU senior third basemen Sawyre Thornhill said. “I think we had a lot of weight lifted off our shoulders when we found out Scooter (Hibbs) was going to be the head coach.”
Even with a new head coach at the helm, fans should still expect this years’ Shocker offense to be high powered. They bring back plenty of bats from last years team, including 10th round MLB Draft pick Brock Rodden. Rodden said that he felt his Shocker career just wasn’t done yet and wanted to come back to don the yellow and black.
“I had a long discussion with my family and I felt this was best for my family and I. I don’t look back on anything, I feel like I made a good decision. I’m just really, really excited to put the Shockers uniform back on and get out and play.”
Now Rodden will look to build on his team high 17 home runs and .336 batting average from last season and attempt to show his draft stock yet again. But in the meantime, his only goal is helping the Wichita State Shockers win baseball games.
“Of course I feel like I have something to prove,” he said. “Just ready to go and have another good year and see what happens.”
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