Shocker baseball kicks off season under Loren Hibbs

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The Wichita State baseball team hit the ground running with its first practice of the season Sunday at Eck Stadium.

The Shockers are looking to turn things around this year under interim head coach Loren Hibbs. Hibbs, a former Shocker, was formerly the University of North Carolina-Charlotte head coach before coming to Wichita State as an assistant in 2019. 

Hibbs took over for Eric Wedge who stepped down as head coach in December due to "personal health-related matters." The Shockers return a lot of big bats to the lineup, including 10th round MLB Draft pick Brock Rodden, while also adding a few players that should make an immediate impact. 
“I had a long discussion with my family and I felt this was best for my family and I," Rodden said after deciding to return to play for the program. "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.”
Coming off a 21-36 finish last year, the Shockers hope to get back to winning ways this season and they've already bought in to Hibbs leading the way.
After nearly a 30-year head coaching stint at North Carolina, Hibbs is excited to be back at the helm of a program.
"(It's) like getting on a bike again to be honest. We have done this for a lot of years and just want our players to be put in a position where they get a chance to be successful. That's kind of our job as coaches," Hibbs said.
The Shockers return their top three batting average leaders and two lowest ERA starting pitchers, while also retaining every player who had the option to transfer after Wedge's departure.
"At the beginning it was a little tough, but we're a family. We came together. We're battling through it and I think we had a lot of weight lifted off our shoulders after we found out (Hibbs) was going to be the head coach," Wichita State senior Sawyre Thornhill said.
The Shockers open their season in California, taking on Long Beach State in their season opener on Feb. 17. and their home opener at Eck Stadium is scheduled for March 3 versus Oakland.