Payton Tolle turned in a efficiency for the ages on Saturday. Pulling double obligation because the beginning pitcher and designated hitter towards Oakland, he struck out a profession excessive 10 batters, permitting only one earned run on two hits and a stroll within the Shockers’ 17-5 win over the Grizzlies. However that’s solely half the story. He additionally helped his personal trigger by going an ideal 5-for-5 on the plate with a double, a house run and 6 RBIs – one other profession excessive.
“I don’t assume I’ve ever had a recreation fairly like that,” Tolle advised D1Baseball. “I imply there’ve been video games in highschool the place I’m pitching nicely, however I can’t fairly discover the hitting or hitting nicely and might’t fairly discover the pitching, however every little thing was simply ticking on Saturday. I don’t actually know what occurred or what I did to have the ability to get that going. Within the second, I used to be simply taking one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time and good issues simply stored taking place.”
Tolle made a direct impression as a freshman final spring, going 4-6, 4.48 within the weekend rotation, whereas additionally slashing .317/.357/.471 with three house runs in restricted motion on the plate. He broke out ultimately yr’s Frisco Basic, taking house MVP honors whereas navigating the Shockers by means of an undefeated weekend with standout performances on the mound and on the plate. Restricted to simply over 100 at-bats final season, Tolle didn’t hit on the times when he pitched and he platooned at designated hitter.
Interim skipper Loren Hibbs defined that he and his workers had a plan to extend Tolle’s two-way duties this season and credited Tolle together with his dedication to bringing the plan to fruition.
“We’re so much higher coaches when he’s within the lineup as a pitcher/DH versus simply being the pitcher,” mentioned Hibbs. “All of us noticed that this weekend. Along with his work ethic, what he’s executed and the way in which he competes is high finish. We simply need nothing however good issues for him shifting ahead. We’re going to stick with the routine that’s labored nicely for him up to now and maintain working him on the market and maintain placing him within the lineup as a DH.”
Each Tolle and Hibbs admire that being a two-way participant at this degree requires a particular degree of dedication on behalf of the coed athlete. Hibbs believes Tolle is up for the problem.
“You’ve seen him in particular person, he’s enormous” mentioned Hibbs. “He’s a giant child; a robust child. He’s actually dedicated to constructing his physique up within the yr and a half now that he’s been right here. It’s a credit score to him, his work within the weight room. It’s arduous to do each. It’s arduous to be a two-way participant at this degree.”
Tolle attributes that willingness on behalf of this system to proceed to permit him to develop on each side of the ball as one driving consider him selecting the college.
“Recruiting for me was totally different I really feel like as a result of there have been some colleges that have been saying, ‘Yeah, we’ll allow you to two-way,’ however it didn’t look like they actually needed it,” Tolle mentioned. “After which there are additionally colleges that mentioned, ‘Hey, you’re going to be a hitter,’ and a few colleges mentioned, ‘Hey, you’re going to be a pitcher.’ Then each time I began speaking to Wichita State, they appear like they have been tremendous on-board with me being a two-way. I believed this was the perfect likelihood I’ve acquired. I consider that they need me to do that, I feel they consider in me.”
Tolle went on to check with Wichita State as certainly one of his dream colleges. He has household ties to the college as his mom is an alumnus, and it was near house for the Yukon, Oklahoma native. For all these causes, Tolle described the choice as a no brainer, realizing it was precisely the place he wanted to be.
When requested if he prefers hitting or pitching, Tolle chooses all the above.
“I like doing each on the identical day,” mentioned Tolle. “I’ve at all times mentioned ever since I used to be in highschool, center faculty, no matter — I’m going to journey this two-way practice till they inform me to cease. I’m not going be the one to select what I do. Any person’s going to have to inform me; I received’t have the ability to make that call for myself.”
After final weekend’s standout efficiency, Tolle is – maybe unfairly – drawing comparisons to former Wichita State two-way star and School Baseball Corridor of Famer Darren Dreifort, who starred for the Shockers from 1991-1993 earlier than embarking on a nine-year MLB profession.
A veteran with greater than 30 years of collegiate teaching expertise, Hibbs recruited and coached Dreifort at Wichita State. Whereas he stopped in need of evaluating the 2 gamers, he acknowledges simply how particular the day was for the sophomore.
“I feel [Payton] will inform you he’s to not that degree but,” mentioned Hibbs. “But when he retains working and he’s nonetheless doing what he’s executed at this level; he’s acquired an opportunity to do some particular issues like Darren did right here.”
“There’s one-of-one with Darren Dreifort, that’s it,” Hibbs continued. “However what Payton did this previous weekend is certainly Darren Dreifort-like. I’m simply actually happy with him; he’s an incredible, large younger man. He’s simply labored his tail off and he likes to compete.”
At 6-foot-6 and 250 kilos, Tolle is an imposing determine on the mound as nicely. He employs a three-pitch combine that features an 88-91 mph fastball, an enhancing breaking ball and he reveals exceptional consolation in turning over his changeup. Whereas he doesn’t blow hitters away with premium velocity, his size helps him get nice extension towards the plate, permitting the fastball high quality to play up and get on hitters in a rush.
Tolle has been working with former Shockers nice and MLB veteran Mike Pelfrey to refine his arsenal. The standard Midwestern younger man that Tolle is, he was fast to credit score his pitching coach and his catcher for his latest success.
“Speaking to Coach Pelfrey this previous week about my begins the primary two weekends, we actually simply needed to deal with conviction, believing in each pitch and throwing each pitch with confidence,” Tolle mentioned. “That’s one thing that I went into the sport realizing that I needed to do. Each pitch was going be the perfect pitch that I throw. I belief Mauricio [Millan] my catcher and he calls a terrific recreation. We’re beginning to assume so much alike now. Each time he throws down an indication, I consider it and he believes it. Each time we’re going collectively it’s a terrific feeling when issues are rolling.”
Offensively, the loudest device within the shed for Tolle is his large uncooked energy from the left facet. There’s bat velocity to enrich the sheer power, ensuing within the ball leaping off his bat. Furthermore, he’s in a position to drive the ball to all fields. An aggressive hitter, Tolle is trying to do injury when he steps to the plate.
“One thing that me and Coach [Mike] Sirianni have talked about is that I actually simply attempt to be in assault mode,” Tolle mentioned. “Simply seeing a pitch that I can hit and driving it proper again up the center. I really feel like I can hit to all sides of the sector, in order that makes it to the place I’m not simply on the lookout for inside [pitches]. I’m on the lookout for heaters, I’m on the lookout for arduous stuff, I’m on the lookout for stuff that I can hit and I’m at all times in assault mode.”
Even with the success he had as a freshman and the new begin within the encore, Tolle may be scratching the floor of his appreciable potential. Hibbs was complimentary of Tolle’s maturity, his budding management and his team-first mentality.
So how lengthy will Tolle journey the two-way practice? Hibbs has no plans to pump the breaks.
“I feel he’s realized that he’s bodily gifted sufficient, if he can get in the correct spot mentally which he’s actually improved with that, that he can dominate the sport at any time towards anyone,” Hibbs mentioned. “It doesn’t matter who we’re enjoying. I feel he’s realized that, and I feel the extra instances that he will get on the market and will get an opportunity to have success, the extra confidence he’s going to get. We’re simply making an attempt to offer them the chance to be a baseball participant as a result of he loves enjoying. It’s actually not too arduous to put in writing his identify within the four-hole, belief me. T-O-L-L-E. That’s fairly easy, I can do this.”