The Purdue baseball team didn’t have a particularly strong year in 2016, stumbling to a 10-44 record.
But an offseason change to the coaching staff has 2015 Rocky Mountain High graduate Ryan Beard convinced he’d like to be a part of the Boilermakers’ turnaround.
Beard, a sophomore left-handed pitcher for the College of Southern Idaho, verbally committed to first-year coach Mark Wasikowski on Sunday after returning from an official visit to the West Lafayette, Ind., campus.
“There was a really good, positive vibe that everything was going to turn around there,” Beard said. “I mean, it’s a Big Ten school. The facilities were obviously amazing.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
As a freshman for the Golden Eagles, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder had a 4.32 ERA and a 4-6 record, including a team-high 75 innings pitched with 68 strikeouts.
Beard’s .571 slugging percentage ranked first on the team and his .321 batting average second.
Beard said he also had offers from Dixie State and Northwest Nazarene and interest from BYU, Nevada and Utah, but it was the Purdue coaching staff’s prior experience that drew him in.
“It pretty much seems like they just gave them free rein to make the program good, and I wanted to be a part of that turnaround for them,” Beard said.
Wasikowski served as a former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Oregon, Arizona and Florida, making 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 20 seasons as an assistant. He also won an NCAA championship as a starting third baseman for Pepperdine in 1992.
Pitching coach Steve Holm played professionally from 2001-2012, making his major-league debut with the San Francisco Giants in 2008.
Beard will finish his sophomore year at CSI and join the Boilermakers in the fall of 2017.