The Big 12 announced the winners of several awards today at a luncheon in Oklahoma City prior to the Big 12 baseball tournament, which begins on Thursday. Three K-State players and head coach Brad Hill all took home awards, meaning that K-State took four of the six awards handed out.
Hill won Big 12 Coach of the Year after he led K-State to its first Big 12 Championship in school history this year with a 16-8 record in conference play and a 39-16 record overall. After being projected to finish seventh in the league in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Hill led the team to the most Big 12 wins ever, and finished four wins shy of a school record for most wins overall. Hill’s win means that on top of winning Big 12 championships in football, men’s basketball and baseball, all three coaches for those teams won Big 12 Coach of the Year.
“It’s about our team. When you win a championship, you’re going to have a lot of kids recognized, and that’s what it’s about,” Hill said. “We’re Big 12 Champions, and that’s plural, and that means all of us are champions.”
Junior second baseman Ross Kivett became the second Wildcat to win Big 12 Player of the Year honors after Nick Martini took home the award in 2010. Kivett hit .376 in conference play, good for second in the Big 12, and was a unanimous First Team All-Big 12 selection this season. On the season as a whole, Kivett hit .359 with a .434 on-base percentage, hitting 12 doubles and five triples while stealing 26 bases. On defense, Kivett only made five errors, good for a .982 fielding percentage.
“It pays dividends to my teammates and the staff that I worked with,” Kivett said. “This is their award. This is just one guy on a really good team.”
Center fielder Jared King shared the Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the year award with Jantzen Witte of TCU in the award’s inaugural season. King, who joined Kivett as a unanimous First Team All-Big 12 selection, is a junior in entrepreneurship, carrying a 3.52 GPA as well as a .342 batting average and a .532 slugging percentage on the field.
“That’s a tremendous award,” said Hill of King’s recognition. “What an honor that is. That speaks volumes about what this thing is all about, it’s about performing well, having success, in the classroom and on the field. That’s just about the highest honor you can get.”
Relief pitcher Jake Matthys took home K-State’s fourth award, as he was named the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year. The righty is the first ever Wildcat to win the award after compiling a 5-0 record in Big 12 play and an 8-0 record overall. In conference play, Matthys had a 2.20 ERA in 16 league games, holding opposing batters to a .186 batting average while earning five saves. His ERA for the season as a whole stands at 2.01 in 28 appearances with six saves.
Three other players brought home hardware at the luncheon as well: Witte (Scholar Athlete), West Virginia’s Harrison Musgrave (Pitcher of the Year) and Kansas’ Jordan Piché (Newcomer of the Year).
Witte is a graduate student at TCU, holding a 3.84 GPA in the liberal arts program. He has played in all 54 of TCU’s games while batting .276 with three home runs and 13 doubles.
Musgrave is the first sophomore to win Pitcher of the Year since former Missouri and current Detroit Tiger pitcher Max Scherzer in 2005. The lefty was at his best once league play started, racking up a 5-0 record and a league-leading 1.02 ERA, while striking out 61 batters in 53 innings. Musgrave took home four pitcher of the week honors and held opposing batters to a paltry .145 batting average. He was also a unanimous First Team All-Big 12 selection.
Piché, a junior, transferred to KU from Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. He finished his first Big 12 season with a 3-3 record and five saves in conference play.
addition to taking home four awards, seven Wildcats were named to the First
Team All-Big 12 Team: sophomore Shane Conlon, sophomore Austin Fisher, Kivett,
senior Blair DeBord, King, senior Tanner Witt and Matthys. Conlon, Kivett,
Fisher, and King were all unanimous selections. Senior Jon Davis received honorable mention, and Matthys and Levi MaVorhis were both named to the Big 12 All-Freshman team.
With these accolades in mind, the Wildcats are looking to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Thursday at 12:30 p.m., followed by a matchup against Baylor on Saturday and Oklahoma on Sunday in Oklahoma City’s Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.