Baseball hires second assistant coach

No need to give new Assistant Baseball Coach Brian Walker a history lesson about the success of the Wichita State University baseball program.

The 28-year-old Tulsa, Okla. native is aware of what Shocker Baseball means to WSU fans after growing up in a neighboring state.

Butler and Walker worked together for five years in Arkansas before coming to Wichita.

“Coach Butler called me and said ‘You want to come to Wichita? I want you to be one of my assistant coaches,’” Walker said.

He went on to say, “I’m all in. I understand coach Butler and his vision for WSU having played for him and coaching with him.”

For Walker, WSU’s rich legacy in baseball tradition has left a strong impression on him. He looks forward to building on it as well.

“I am very fortunate to be a young coach coming in to a program such as Wichita State learning and growing with Coach Butler and learning from Coach (Brent) Kemitz’s vast knowledge of baseball. I’m excited about the future,” Walker said.

The Shockers are the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Champions. Expectations are high even after the inconsistent 5-2 finish to the season. The team lost three seniors and two players to the MLB Draft.

The team is loaded with returning players, which makes WSU a conference favorite and expected to make a deep run toward the College World Series. Walker believes that practices are for the coaches and games are for the players.

“We will cover every possible situation with Coach Butler so players are prepared so when their time comes during a game they will know what to do. We are trying to develop players if their goals are to be pro ball players they will be ready,” Walker said.

Walker also realizes that some faithful Shocker fans are taking a wait and see approach with the new coaching staff. He said he is up for the challenge and embraces what former head coach Gene Stephenson has done.

“Everything that Coach Stephenson and his staff has done here is unbelievable when you walk in and see the things the stadium he helped built its amazing,” Walker said. “It’s just about carrying forward the tradition.”

Walker is happy being in Wichita. He said it feels a lot like home with a first class fan base.

“We were out eating dinner with several of the coaching staff and a group of people stood up in the restaurant and said ‘Go Shockers’,” he said. “That just shows what type of special place we are at. It’s just a exciting time, I’m excited to get to work and excited to make Shocker Nation proud.”

Since Walker was introduced as the assistant coach, he has yet to really have had any time to see any sights of Wichita. He has been on the road recruiting, moving into his office, and trying to get his wife of five years McKenzie and 4-year old twins Joseph and Claire here to Wichita. They are currently still in Fayetteville, Ark.

Walker started his collegiate career at Arizona State where he played one year before he transferred to Arkansas for three years. He was drafted in the 29th round by the Anaheim Angels and was a catcher in the AAA farm system where he played four years and was coached by current Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

Walker then retired from playing baseball and got a job as a volunteer assistant at Arkansas for three years. He worked with the catchers and helped Butler coach hitting, third base coach and defense.

Walker mentored and coached James McCann while in Arkansas, a semifinalist for Johnny Bench Award an award given for the Best Catcher in college baseball. The chosen player is recognized in Wichita each year. McCann was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2011 MLB Draft.