Gayman's 2024 regular season capped off with 1st-team all-MIAA selection

May 4—Missouri Southern's Cole Gayman was named to the all-MIAA first team as a starting pitcher on Thursday by the conference.

Gayman followed that award up by pitching the Lions to a 12-1 victory on Friday. The former Webb City Cardinal pitched six innings and held Northwest Missouri State to just one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out four batters in the contest.

That was the first game of the MIAA tournament series with the Bearcats.

Gayman has now pitched 85 2/3 innings this season and sports a league-best 2.42 earned run average and 1.07 WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched). He's second in the MIAA with 84 strikeouts.

He's been the toughest pitcher to hit in the entire conference as the opposition is batting just .184 against him this year. Fort Hays State's Ty Riley is allowing a batting average of .209 for second-best in the MIAA.

The junior at MSSU is tied with Tanner Leslie of Pittsburg State and Conner Wolf of Central Missouri with 10 wins. Gayman leads the best pitching staff in the MIAA as the Lions' team ERA of 4.74 is atop the conference. UCM's team ERA is 4.82 in second.

He will look to continue pushing the Lions with his performance on the mound for as far as he can in the postseason. He's been able to have an offense alongside him as well that is near the top in the conference in many stat categories.

Another win Saturday over NWMSU would move the team into the second round of the MIAA tournament. The Lions and Bearcats are set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Warren Turner Field.


Less than a month ago, Gayman tossed a complete-game shutout for the Lions inside Joe Becker Stadium against Missouri Western. MSSU won 5-0 and Gayman only allowed five baserunners in nine innings while striking out five batters.

Gayman talked the day after his performance about how he was feeling throughout the game.

"I knew my pitch count was pretty low because I was really just trying to pound the zone yesterday," he said. "I was trying to let them put the bat on the ball because my defense was making plays yesterday. That helped keep the pitch count down. That's really what got me through yesterday."

This was his first nine-inning complete game. He's finished games that were shortened due to run-rule but never a full nine innings.

"Being at Becker yesterday helped a lot with the adrenaline. It came back out in the ninth... adrenaline helped me get through that yesterday. It was fun," Gayman added.

The final out of the game was his fifth strikeout of the day. He allowed his momentum from the pitch to carry his body around to where he was facing the outfield grass. Gayman just stared into the sky for a moment before turning back around to celebrate with catcher Chayton Beck — who ran out to the mound to greet him.

"He said 'Great job.' Chayton's my guy. He's caught me for like the last three years," Gayman said. "It's good to see him after the games and give him a hug."

Gayman had pitched at Joe Becker back when he pitched for the Cardinals but not since joining MSSU. Last year's game at the stadium was pitched by the Lions' ace Cole Woods.

This start was special for Gayman as he recalled his first start back from Tommy John surgery was at Joe Becker. He had to have the surgery the summer after his sophomore year and his first time back on the mound came at Joe Becker.


After every start, Gayman hits the gym for a workout that evening. The next day is pretty light as he considers Saturday's to be a day to just "stay loose" after visiting the trainer early in the day.

Sunday ramps up for rehab as he works on conditioning, uses arm bands to work on his throwing arm and other mobility workouts to prepare for the next Friday start.

Gayman has been the No. 1 starter all year and has been that consistent Friday pitcher every week for the Lions. He likes being able to stay in a rhythm and knowing when his name is called, even if it brings some pressure being the ace of the staff.

"I like having that role. It's fun because I like going out there with a confidence and knowing that my team has confidence in me," Gayman said.

He doesn't crack a smile often when he's on the mound. It appears to be a strictly business attitude during his outing but the right-hander says he tries to keep it loose for himself.

"I guess I don't show it much but I try to stay as loose as I can out there. It's baseball. You have to have fun with it," he said.


Head coach Bryce Darnell has spoken most with Gayman about learning to let the last pitch go and focus on the next pitch more.

Gayman recalled beating himself up more as a sophomore for mistakes he'd made. This year, he's been trying to have that short memory that coaches often preach to their pitchers.

"You can't control everything that happens. You can just control that next pitch," Gayman said.


MSSU senior shortstop Henry Kusiak, who has set multiple career records for the Lions, was also named to the all-MIAA first team.

Kusiak also earned a Gold Glove — the second in his career.

He finished the regular season slashing .391/.515/.714. His defensive percentage was at .985.

Drew Townsend was second-team all-MIAA as a utility player. Will Doherty received a third-team selection.

Pitchers Trent Harris and Kyle Moore received honorable mention along with Garrett Rice, Ethan Clark and Treghan Parker.