‘It’s like a family:’ Connor Holden joins the Shockers for his final season of college baseball

In the past few years, the Wichita State baseball program has found some success in adding graduate transfers to the roster. Connor Holden became the latest graduate transfer to join the program, announcing his commitment on July 9.

Holden comes to WSU following a four-year career with Murray State. Holden said that going the graduate transfer route became intriguing to him with the possibility of transferring to a high-major school like WSU.

“I just wanted to go to a school where I could get a little more exposure,” Holden said. “I loved Murray State but I felt that in Wichita, I could get more exposure and get my name out there, get some development and see if I could try to get to the next level.”

Holden appeared in 19 games last season with Murray State, while compiling 30 innings pitched along with a 2.10 ERA. Holden also converted nine saves across his four-year career with the Racers. 

The Louisville, Kentucky native said that despite his experience in the back end of the bullpen, he knows he must still obtain that opportunity.

“I know I’ve got to earn it,” Holden said. “I know there’s some really good talent on this team, so I hope I come in and earn it. One of the biggest things I hope I can bring is my experience. I played all four years, I have a lot of career appearances, I’m hoping I can come in and share my experiences and what I’ve done and pitching in the later innings.”

Although Holden will only be a Shocker for one season, he feels that he can still have an impact with his leadership, given his experience over the past four years.

“I think the biggest part is I’ve got to earn their trust,” Holden said. “Going to a new program, the kids on the team are very talented and there’s going to be fresh talent coming in. Everyone’s new and I’ve got to show them my skills and prove to them what I can do on a baseball field. If you don’t earn their trust, then they’re not going to listen to you.”

Holden said that his main goals this season are to find success while also enjoying his last year of college baseball.

“Obviously it’s to win but it’s also to have fun. I think that gets lost in a lot of things. If you’re not having fun, do you still have the same passion for it? I’m just excited to get in a new environment, new coaches, new players and learn from those players and learn from the coaches and see where it takes me.”

Holden has started to build some relationships with some of the other members of the bullpen. L.J. McDonough was the lead recruiter following a successful debut season with the Shockers. Holden said he also talked to Aaron Haase, last year’s closer, who was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round of the MLB Draft on Tuesday. 

He will have the opportunity to create some more chemistry next week as Holden plans to join Jace Kaminska and Cameron Bye on the Upper Valley Nighthawks, a summer collegiate team in the New England League, for the remainder of the summer. 

Holden said that McDonough’s message that the program was like a family stuck with him when it came time to choose his next school. 

“He was really optimistic from day one about me coming in and he said ‘it’s like a family there’ and that really stuck with me,” Holden said. “There’s a lot of competition but at the end of the day the team really comes together and becomes a family.”

Holden still hasn’t visited WSU’s campus, but said that he is excited to spend next season with the Shockers. 

“I’m super excited,” Holden said. “I’ve actually never been to Kansas, I didn’t visit or anything so it’s going to be surreal. I’m really excited to get down there and get to work and really have a special year with the guys there.”