WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State head baseball coach Todd Butler has announced that Brian Walker and Scott Gurss will be joining the Shocker baseball staff. Walker will be Butler’s second assistant coach and Gurss will be the Director of Operations.
“We are excited to come to a conclusion with our Shocker coaching staff,” Butler said. “Brian Walker will bring vast knowledge to the Shocker baseball program. As a player and coach in college with one trip to Omaha (2012) and the Anaheim Angels organization AAA experience at the professional level, he has played and coached at the highest levels. While coaching Brian as a player and coaching alongside him daily, I know that he understands the system which we will bring to our Shocker players. Brian is a fantastic coach and person on and off the field. I do know that Brian is excited to develop and build our Shocker players to great heights and that he understands the demands and work load involved carrying on the great rich tradition of Wichita State Shocker baseball. We are excited and welcome Brian, McKenzi, Joseph, and Claire (twins age 4) to become a huge piece of the puzzle of success for our Shocker family.”
"I am excited about how Coach Butler approached rounding out his team with Brian and Scott,” Eric Sexton, Director of Athletics said. “They are quality individuals who bring a great understanding of what it takes to recruit and develop Division I players. Along with Brent Kemnitz, we now have a team built for success and ready to begin the next great era of Shocker Baseball."
Walker just finished his third season on the Arkansas coaching staff and his second season as the volunteer assistant. He spent five seasons with Butler at Arkansas. His responsibilities at WSU will include recruiting, hitting, catching, assisting with pitching and coaching third base.
“My family and I are blessed at the opportunity to become a part of the Shocker family,” Walker said. “This opportunity to be a part of such a great tradition with such storied success is an honor for us. Being a player for Coach Butler and also coaching with him the last three years has allowed me the opportunity to understand his vision for success. Understanding Coach Butler’s desire and work ethic will allow us to practice efficiently and effectively in motivating our student-athletes to succeed at a high level. I am thankful to be a part of such an experienced coaching staff and look forward to working alongside Coach Kemnitz and learning from him and his wealth of knowledge. The future is bright and exciting times are to come. With energy, enthusiasm, and hard work, we can carry on the success of the great Shocker program.”
During his three years at Arkansas, Walker helped the Razorbacks to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a College World Series appearance in 2012. The Razorbacks also entered the 2013 season as the number one team in the country.
As a coach, he organized hitting schools and developed summer, winter and spring camps, served as either the first base or third base coach, was the catching coach and assisted Butler with hitting.
As the catching coach, Walker was instrumental in developing Jake Wise and James McCann at Arkansas. During the 2012 season, Wise was one of the best defensive catchers in the country, not committing an error in 438 chances in 2012. Wise was also effective in slowing down the opposition’s running game as he threw out 17 would-be base stealers. Wise threw out 20 runners in 2013 and had just four errors for a .991 fielding percentage.
In his first season on the Arkansas coaching staff, Walker mentored McCann, one of the top catchers in collegiate baseball. McCann, who was named a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, enjoyed his best season at the plate, finishing the year with a .306 batting average with six homers and 38 RBI. Defensively, McCann had a .992 fielding percentage, committing just four errors, while throwing out 20 would-be base stealers. McCann was a second round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2011 MLB Draft.
Walker joined the Arkansas coaching staff after spending four years in the Anaheim Angels minor league system. Walker closed the 2010 season with the Angels’ triple-A squad, Salt Lake City. In six games with Salt Lake City, he hit .300 with six RBI.
A three-year letterwinner at Arkansas (2005-07), Walker played in 164 games, including 145 starts, and hit .260 with 26 home runs and 98 RBI. Walker was stellar in the field for the Razorbacks, committing just five errors over his three-year career for a .996 fielding percentage. During his career, he played in three SEC Tournaments and three NCAA Tournaments and earned all-regional honors in 2005 and 2007. He also served as team captain in 2006 and 2007. He was drafted in the 29th round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Anaheim Angels.
A native of Tulsa, Okla., and a graduate of Tulsa Union High School, Walker graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2010 with a degree in kinesiology. Walker and his wife, McKenzi, have two children, Claire (4) and Joseph (4).
“We are also excited to name Scott Gurss as Director of Baseball Operations,” Butler said. “Scott has coached in the Cape Cod League in Cotuit, Mass., where he was an assistant coach and they won the Cape Cod championship in 2010. In 2011, he was a part of the Razorback staff that won a SEC West Championship as well as a trip to Omaha in the 2012 season. Gurss then was hired at Neosho County Community College and he helped them return to the Junior College World Series this past season as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. We are very excited to include Scott into the Shocker family. Scott has deep ties and relationships in Kansas and Oklahoma and will bring his exceptional enthusiasm and excitement to Eck Stadium and Tyler Field.”
Gurss just finished his first season as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Neosho County Community College. Gurss also spent two seasons with Butler at Arkansas. At WSU, he will be responsible for the day to day operations off the field, which include team travel, being an on campus recruiting official, and coordinating all official and unofficial visits. Gurss will also be taking on the duties for all camps put on at Wichita State.
"This is a very exciting day for me and I would like to thank Todd Butler and Eric Sexton for this opportunity to join the Shocker family,” Gurss said. “Having worked with Todd for two years already will prepare me for the system being put in place. I am ready to add my enthusiasm and energy to the Shocker program, players and community."
Before joining the Panthers, Gurss spent two years as the Volunteer Assistant baseball coach at the University of Arkansas and four summers as the head assistant coach and hitting coach for the Cotuit Ketteleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. In 2013 with Neosho, he helped the Panthers to the JUCO World Series.
While with the Razorbacks, Gurss helped them to a SEC West Championship in 2011 and a trip to Omaha and the College World Series in 2012. Scott's main responsibilities in his two years at Arkansas were hitters and infielders with the main emphasis on first base for defense. Gurss helped Arkansas first baseman Dominic Ficociello to an All Defensive SEC first baseman honor as a freshman. He was also responsible for placing all Razorbacks in summer leagues.
As a Ketteleer, Gurss held one-on-one workouts with several top collegiate players, including many that have already been called upon in the Major Leagues. During his four seasons, the Ketteleers went to the Championship Series each season, including winning the Cape Cod League championship in 2010.
Prior to his time on the Cape, Gurss was a student assistant coach at his alma mater, Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Gurss constructed and devised practice plans for fall, winter and spring practices, created a fundraising program and implemented a work out plan for individual players.
Gurss has also served as the Head Summer Travel Coach for the Alva Renegades and as the Summer Varsity Head Coach of Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Okla.
A native of Edmond, Okla., and a graduate of Deer Creek High School, Gurss graduated from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 2008 with a degree in health and sports science. Gurss is currently finishing up a masters degree in workforce development at the University of Arkansas.