Kansas State executed a nine-game turnaround from last season’s 7-16 record in Big 12 baseball play, and the Cats were deservedly rewarded on Monday with four individual awards and seven members named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
Junior infielder Ross Kivett was named Big 12 Player of the Year, coach Brad Hill is the Coach of the Year, junior outfielder Jared King was voted Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year and right-handed pitcher Jake Matthys was named Freshman of the Year. Jantzen Witte of TCU shared the Scholar Athlete of trhe Year Award with K-State’s King. West Virginia starting pitcher Harrison Musgrave was voted Pitcher of the Year.Newcomer of the Year went to Kansas ace reliever Jordan Piche.
Kivett has 23 multi-hit games this year, and finished second in hitting in Big 12 games to teammate Austin Fisher, with a .376 batting average. A unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection, Kivett is the seond Kansas State player to receive the Player of the Year honor in the Big 12 era. Nick Martini was so honored in 2010.
A redshirt sophomore, Musgrave was 5-0 against Big 12 opponents and had an ERA of 1.02 in seven starts and 53 inning pitched. Musgrave was honored four times this season as Big 12 Pitcher of the Week, only the second player in conference history to accomplish that.
Matthys posted a sensational 5-0 record against conference opponents. He held opposing league teams to a.186 batting average and had a 2.20 ERA with five saves in 16 games.
Co-Scholar Athlete Award winners King and Witte both hold grade point averages above 3.50. King is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team member and is majoring in entrepreneurship. Witte has an undergraduate degree in communications and is attending graduate school at TCU in the liberal arts program.
K-State’s Hill picked up his second Coach of the Year Award. He earned the same honor in 2009. Hill led the Wildcats to their first conference championship in baseball since 1933. Kansas State’s 16 conference wins this season is the most for the school in the Big 12 era. He is the third Wildcat head coach to be named Coach of the Year in the conference this season, joining football coach Bill Snyder and basketball coach Bruce Weber. This is the first time in Big 12 history that three coaches from the same school have received the top coaching honor in the same season.
Piche transferred to Kansas this year from Indian Hills Commiunity College in Iowa. Piche had a 3-3 record and five saves against Big 12 teams. The right-handed reliever/closer posted a 2.20 ERA in the regular season, 10th best in the league this season. He is the second Kansas player to be named Newcomer of the Year in the conference.
After finishing seventh in the conference a year ago, Kansas State did not place a single player on the All-Big 12 First Team last season. The Cats more than made up for it this season, however, placing seven on the All-Conference First Team this time around. K-State first-team honorees included unanimous selections Ross Kivett, Shane Conlon, and Austin Fisher, all infielders, and Jared King. Other K-State players named to the first team were catcher Blair DeBord, utility player Tanner Witt and relief pitcher Jake Matthys.
Only Baylor, in 2012, had placed as many as seven players on the All-Big 12 First Team before Kansas State did it this year. Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State had two first-team selections and Kansas, Texas, West Virginia and TCU placed one each on the first team.