Garrett Kocis prepares for final season of college baseball

Wichita State junior Garrett Kocis waits to hit the ball during the game against Dixie State at Eck Stadium on Mar. 3, 2021. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower)

Senior Garrett Kocis was off to the best season of his career. Kocis had hit a career-high 12 home runs and led WSU in OPS through 25 games of the 2021 season. Then a broken wrist sidelined him during his breakout season. 

Kocis made his return to the Shocker lineup after missing a month of action, despite not being 100%. 

“It feels awesome,” Kocis said. “Injuries kind of teach you how to enjoy the moment and just take it one day at a time and just be grateful to be able to put this uniform on our chest. It’s a pleasure to go out there and play and I’m not going to take it for granted.”

Kocis struggled to find his early season form after returning from injury, hitting .242 with two home runs in the final 10 games of the 2021 season. Kocis said that it messed up his swing, which resulted in the offensive struggles.

The senior first baseman worked tirelessly in the offseason to regain his swing from earlier last season. Kocis is now coming off a strong fall campaign, hitting two homers and driving in five runs.

“It screwed some things up with my swing because I came back with it still broken so I just wasn’t really the same,” Kocis said. “This offseason was basically focusing on what I was working on before and now that I’m healthy, I’m hammering in the fundamentals of myself and my swing.”

With Kocis out of the lineup, the Shockers went 7-10 in his absence, falling to as low as fifth place in the American. WSU was able to finish the season strong with Kocis back and recorded a third place finish in the AAC. 

“He’s been hungry to get back for a long time, it’s unfortunate that he had that injury but he’s powered through it,” head coach Eric Wedge said. “He’s worked hard with the training staff and doctors. It’s going to take him some time to get back on track but he’s really worked hard.”

Kocis could’ve opted to enter the Major League Baseball Draft last spring but decided he wanted to return for one last season with WSU. Behind a revamped roster, Kocis said that, he is confident in this team making an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2013.

“That’s the reason why I came back,” Kocis said. “Talking to Wedge and coaches about the new guys before I saw them, they were really confident in us making the postseason and a regional push. Now that I’m here seeing all the new guys and the guys that came back, I know it’s definitely possible and we’re going to do it.”

Since arriving back on campus in the fall and seeing the new additions in person, Kocis has agreed with Wedge’s assessment. With the season coming around the corner, Kocis said he is excited to compete healthy with this new group.

“I’m just excited for more than anything to get out there and compete again,” Kocis said. “I’m really just excited to see what this team can do because I know what we’re capable of. It’s going to feel good to go out and compete with everyone.”

With the final season of his college career set to get underway later this week, Kocis said he’s been emotional heading into the season opener on Friday against Louisiana Tech.

“I got emotional thinking about it,” Kocis said. “I put blood sweat and tears into this place and it’s given back more than I could ever dream of. It’s really exciting to go out there and compete.”