Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: Kansas State Baseball

KSU at-a-glance:
-Program founded: 1897
-Overall record: 1,572-1,568-11
-3 NCAA Tournament appearances
-12 All-Americans

History with TCU: The Wildcats and the Frogs have met nine times on the baseball diamond, all of them in Fort Worth.  TCU holds a 6-3 advantage in those games, with the most recent coming in 1987.

Recent History: If there is a golden era of K-State baseball, it is happening right now.  When current head coach Brad Hill took over in 2004, the Wildcats had never- in 106 years of playing baseball- made the NCAA Tournament.  That had posted losing seasons in 5 of the previous 10 seasons, and were coming off a dreadful 2003 campaign that saw them finish dead-last in the Big 12.  The Wildcats have steadily improved under Hill, though, posting a program-record 43 wins in 2009 and making the NCAA Tournament each of the past three seasons.  AJ Morris was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2009 as well as a 1st Team All-American, and 18 players have been selected in the MLB Draft during Hill's tenure.

Outlook for next season: The Wildcats have stumbled a bit this year, due in large part to inexperience with 19 of the 31 players on the roster being freshmen or sophomores. At 22-27, K-State will need a late-season surge to push their NCAA appearance streak to four.  Their major weakness has been pitching, as they've compiled a team ERA of 5.52 this year and are allowing opposing batters to hit .296 against them.  Only three regularly-used pitchers with an ERA of under 5.00 return next year.  Four of their top six hitters have the option to return next year, though, from a lineup that is averaging over 6 runs a game.  The most dangerous of those is Jared King, a switch-hitting sophomore outfielder who is hitting .376 with 5 home runs and 40 RBI.

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