DJ Wyman received a text message from St. Cloud State University head coach Pat Dolan in December 2017, expressing his interest in the right-handed pitcher.
Roughly one minute later, Wyman got a call from his best friend and former Tolleson High School teammate, Lenny Walker, who had the same message.
The coincidence solidified their decisions to continue their baseball careers at the next level, as they committed to St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on May 5.
“I always wanted to get away from home and experience a different place, but I’ve always been a little nervous to do it,” Wyman said.
“Having Lenny with me – someone I’m comfortable with – that really helped me make the decision and I’m sure he felt the same with the situation.”
After playing together at Tolleson for three seasons and graduating in 2016, the two had to split up to continue their baseball careers. Wyman played at Gateway Community College for two seasons, while Walker bounced from South Mountain Community College to Phoenix College.
As community and junior college athletes are only eligible for two years, both players began exploring options to extend their careers.
St. Cloud State came calling after Dolan toured Arizona colleges, eyeing potential recruits.
“They came to my school to check out some players – they saw some fielding, hitting, running. They said they liked what they saw and wanted to keep in touch with me because they were interested,” Walker recalled.
Walker served as a left fielder and designated hitter in 2017 with South Mountain, making the transition to centerfield at Phoenix College the following year.
Over a four-year varsity career with the Tolleson Wolverines, Walker played in 100 games and hit .429 with 83 RBI and a .680 slugging percentage. He earned two Silver Slugger Awards and the Most Valuable Player honor his senior year.
“I expect myself to be the hardest worker on the team and to be the starting center fielder. I want to be an impact player going into the school, and that’s what I’m working on right now.”
Wyman pitched out of the starting rotation the last two years at Gateway. With the Wolverines, he won the Cy Young Award in the spring of 2016. He graduated from Tolleson with an 8-6 record and 4.50 ERA, striking out 74 batters in 84 innings spanning three varsity seasons.
“I’m really hoping to get the role of a starting pitcher (at St. Cloud State). I really like that responsibility I have when I’m starting. I’m really hoping I can go in there and prove my spot.”
The former Tolleson duo will join a St. Cloud State squad that holds a 27-11 record, good for sixth best in the Central Region in Division II.
The success the Huskies have had this season in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference should extend into the Division II College World Series this summer in Cary, North Carolina, which makes the commitment that much sweeter.
They’ll leave for Minnesota in August, with sights set on bringing St. Cloud State its first national championship title.
“It makes us feel good going somewhere that knows what success feels like. We just want to build on that and hopefully win a National Championship over there,” Walker said.