OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Kansas State reaped the rewards of its first-ever Big 12 baseball championship season as a school-record seven players earned all-conference first-team honors on Tuesday. Wildcats head coach Brad Hill was named coach of the year for the second time.
In addition, the Wildcats took home three other major awards. Ross Kivett voted by the league coaches as player of the year, pitcher Jake Matthys being named freshman of the year and Jared King receiving co-scholar athlete of the year honors.
The conference announced its postseason awards during a luncheon on Tuesday at the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.
Top-seeded Kansas State takes on eighth-seeded Texas Tech during the opening round of the Big 12 championship at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. The game will be shown to a national audience on Fox College Sports, and will air on the K-State Sports Network.
Joining Kivett, Matthys and King on the first team were catcher Blair DeBord, first baseman Shane Conlon, shortstop Austin Fisher and outfielder/pitcher Tanner Witt. Kivett, King, Conlon and Fisher were all unanimous selections. Outfielder Jon Davis picked up honorable mention accolades, while Matthys and Levi MaVorhis earned spots on the Big 12 All-Freshman squad.
K-State had previously never had more than three players named to the league’s first team, and by having seven selections it tied the Big 12 record set by Baylor last season. Additionally, the three infielders on the list tied a league record with the 2008 Texas A&M squad.
With Hill’s nod as Coach of the Year, K-State became the first school in conference history to have its football, men’s basketball and baseball coaches all earn the honor during the same academic year. The Wildcats won conference championships in all three sports, the second school in league history to accomplish the feat.
Hill, who also earned the honor in 2009, guided the Wildcats to their first conference championship in 80 years with a 39-16 overall record and a 16-7 mark in Big 12 play. The 39 wins are the second-most in school history and tied for the most in regular-season play, while K-State’s 16 conference wins set a school record.
Kivett is the third Wildcat to be named conference player of the year, joining 1992 Big Eight Player of the Year Craig Wilson and 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year Nick Martini. The second baseman, who earned all-conference honors for the first time in his career, hit .359 on the year to rank fourth in the Big 12, while his .376 average against league foes ranked second.
A product of Broadview Heights, Ohio, Kivett enters the conference tournament ranked second in the conference in hits (80) and steals (26), third in runs scored (46), fourth in triples (4), fifth in total bases (103) and sixth in on-base percentage (.434).
Matthys is the first K-State player to earn conference freshman of the year accolades. The right-handed pitcher produced an 8-0 record with a 2.01 earned run average and six saves in 28 relief appearances. He broke the Kansas State freshman record for wins as well as victories by a relief pitcher during the Big 12 era while also tying the school’s top freshman mark for saves. His eight victories are tied for first in the Big 12 this season, and the Spring Lake Park, Minn., product ranks second in appearances and seventh in saves.
King, who earned his second straight academic all-conference first-team honor last week, is hitting .342 with 14 doubles, six home runs and a team-leading 46 runs batted in. King registered his initial all-conference first-team accolade after picking up second-team honors each of the last two years.
Witt earned his second All-Big 12 honor as he was an honorable mention selection last season, while DeBord, Conlon and Fisher each garnered their first career honors. Witt is hitting .324 with seven doubles and 29 RBI, and the right-hander holds a 3.18 ERA with seven saves in 17 appearances on the mound. His seven saves rank sixth in the conference and are tied for seventh in school history.
DeBord, who has caught 51 games this season, is hitting .321 with 10 doubles and 30 RBI while holding a .992 fielding percentage. Conlon leads the team in home runs with seven as he is hitting .340 with 27 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Fisher led the Big 12 with a .412 conference-only batting average and is hitting .358 overall.