Derek Wiley
The Bulletin

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June 11-13: Elks vs. Hayesville

June 14-16: Elks at ­Portland

June 17-19: Elks at ­Victoria

Kyle Wade, born and raised in Indiana, had never been farther west than Oklahoma when he boarded an airplane for Redmond last Saturday.

“The flight was pretty cool,” said Wade, a rising sophomore pitcher at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who is spending his summer in Bend playing for the Elks. “I’d never seen mountains.”

Wade is one of several Purdue baseball players in the West Coast League this season, including fellow Elks pitcher Ricky Castro.

Mark Wasikowski, the Boilermakers’ head baseball coach, was an assistant at the University of Oregon from 2011 to 2016, and Elliott Cribby was associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Seattle University before becoming Purdue’s pitching coach.

“He (Cribby) put a contract in my locker and said you’re going to Bend, Oregon, this summer,” recalled Wade, who started on the mound in the Elks’ season opener last Tuesday. Over four innings, he allowed five hits and one earned run in front of nearly 2,900 fans who saw the home team win 2-1 over Cowlitz in the WCL opener.

“I’ve pitched in front of some pretty big crowds at school, but opening night, it doesn’t get better than that, especially in a league you’ve never played in and don’t know what to expect,” Wade said. “I didn’t know any of the guys on the other team. It was fun to get the ball on opening night.”

Elks coach Joe Dominiak was impressed with Wade’s first start.

“The ball came out of his fingers really well,” Dominiak said. “I did not see any butterflies or anything like that. He had good composure. He really looked like he knew what he was doing out there.”

Wade comes from a sports family. One grandfather, Allen Wade, played football at Purdue. The other grandfather, Al Rowley, played basketball at Ohio State.

Despite growing up less than an hour from the Purdue campus, in Kokomo, Indiana, Kyle Wade was raised as a Buckeyes fan.

“He kind of brainwashed me,” Wade said of Rowley. “I’m a big Ohio State football fan.”

But Wade admitted he was pulling for Purdue last fall when the Boilermakers knocked off then No. 2-ranked Ohio State.

“That upset was nuts, especially with the Tyler Trent stuff going on,” Wade said, referring to the young Purdue super fan whose battle with cancer gained national attention and who passed away on Jan. 1 at age 20. “I had to go with Purdue. I have a couple of friends on the football team.”

Wade’s parents were also collegiate athletes, at Hanover College in Indiana. His dad, Mike, played baseball and basketball. His mother, Ali, was on the field hockey team.

Wade played three sports in high school — baseball, football and basketball.

“For a while I thought I was going to play football in college and I explored playing both (football and baseball) at a smaller school,” said Wade, who as the starting quarterback helped lead Kokomo High School to the program’s first state title game in 2017.

“There’s nothing better than Friday night lights in high school, but baseball has always been a love of mine. Deciding between the two was tough, but I’ve always wanted to play in the Big Ten. The opportunity to be a Big Ten athlete at Purdue came and I couldn’t pass that up.”

As a midweek starter and long reliever, Wade threw 40 innings in his freshman season. He went 2-2 with 5.18 ERA.

“I got a lot more opportunities than I thought I would,” Wade said.

“I had a lot of fun, just making that transition from high school to college.”

Along with a mid- to upper-80 mph fastball, Wade also throws a slider, curveball and change-up.

“I’m not a huge strikeout guy,” he said. “I more pitch to contact.”

Wade has enjoyed working with the Elks’ first-year pitching coach, Doug Davis, a former big league pitcher.

“The biggest thing is I want to develop my stuff and he (Davis) obviously had pretty good stuff in his career,” Wade said. “It’s nice that we have some great minds in the coaching staff.”

Wade is also looking forward to exploring Bend and the surrounding areas.

“You don’t get that many opportunities to come out to Oregon and travel and throw,” Wade said. “I just want to take advantage of it the best I can.”

­­— Reporter: 541-383-0307, dwiley@bendbulletin.com

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