Western Nebraska Community College pitcher Kale Litzelman always had a dream of playing Division I baseball and he realized that dream Thursday signing with Murray State University.
Litzelman becomes the first Cougar to sign Division I since Jack Pauley signed to play at the University of Northern Colorado.
“That has been one of my goals to play at the highest level that I can,” the Hotchkiss, Colorado, graduate said. “It is just another step that I can take to reach my ultimate goal and I am really excited that I get the opportunity.”
Litzelman was ready to go a little farther from home, too.
“It is away from home and I really liked the coaches,” he said. “They are young, hungry, and they have the same mindset that I do as it comes to workout and how hard they practice.”
Litzelman said coming here was a good step in helping him get to the Division I level.
“I gained a lot of development coming here in not being as good as I wanted to coming out of high school,” he said. “I also had a lot of good teammates that helped me along the way. It was just getting a lot of experience here.”
Litzelman is a 6-foot-1 left-handed pitcher that has thrown 51 innings so far this year. He has started 10 games with 43 strikeouts with an earned run average of 5.65.
“It really helped especially with our coaching staff believing in me the whole time and letting me the opportunities make mistakes and grow from them also,” Litzelman said about his improvement while at WNCC.
When Litzelman gets to Murray State, the expectations are for him to become a weekend rotation pitcher. He picked Murray State from other schools because of what the coaches mean to the team.
“The head coach and the other coaches were hired on in July so it is their first year there,” he said. “They are really developmental, so they do a lot of things to make their players progress even when they get to the DI level because they want them to play at the highest level that they can.”
Picking Murray State wasn’t easy but it wasn’t hard either for Litzelman.
“I had a lot of schools and something big for me was a winning program and a team that likes to win,” he said. “They just fit me the best when it came to everything I was looking for in a school.”
The Cougars have five regular season games left this weekend and then the regional tournament. But it depends how they do this weekend if they will get in the tournament. But, Litzelman had a goal to achieve and that is to win a regional title.
“I definitely would like to get a Region IX championship,” he said. “We are going to go 5-0 this weekend and take care of that and go and play in the regional tournament. That is the unfinished business that I would like to take care of also.”
When Litzelman leaves here after the season and graduation, it will be difficult because of all the friends he met from all over.
“It will be pretty hard to leave,” he said. “The relationships that I have built here with the guys is probably going to be different from [Murray State]. As far as the DI levels go, there is not a lot of international transfers on every team and we are full of internationals. I got the experience to meet people that aren’t from around here.”
Litzelman is planning on majoring in physical therapy when he attends Murray State.