April 24, 2010


Kansas State continues recent success

By Brian Buckey

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Last year was a record year for the Kansas State Wildcats. And all early signs point to this year being even better.


In 2009, the Wildcats recorded a school-record 43 wins, finished fourth in the Big 12 and made it to their first-ever NCAA Regional.


Now Kansas State sits in second place in the Big 12 standings and boasts a 27-8 record, their best start ever.


With last year’s success, many people around the program have heightened expectations for this season. But for head coach Brad Hill, this season represents a new challenge.


“We’re almost a whole new team really from last year,” Hill (left) said. “We have six new position players and three new starting pitchers. We’re more concerned with who we’re going to be. But we still have the memory of what it felt like last year to get to Regionals.”


The Wildcats’ fast start this season has earned them a No. 16 rating in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll.


“That’s not really something we pay attention to a whole lot,” senior pitcher Ryan Daniel said. “We come prepared every day to play. We’re confident that we can beat anyone, but we’re not really looking at the ranking.”


One of the biggest challenges for Kansas State this year has been replacing 2009 All-American and Big 12 Pitcher of the year A.J. Morris, who went in the fourth round of the 2009 Amateur Draft to the Washington Nationals. Also gone from last year are starters Lance Hoge and Todd Vogel.


“We don’t have a prime-time, feature player like A.J. Morris anymore,” Hill said. “We knew we had a 90 percent chance of winning when he was on the hill. Now we have to kind of pitch by committee.”


The pitching staff this year is led by sophomores Kyle Hunter and Justin Lindsey along with senior Ryan Daniel. Hunter leads the team with a 7-0 record and boasts a 3.10 ERA. Lindsey is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA and Daniel is 5-1 with a 4.00 ERA.


The Kansas State bats have also impressed early in the season.  Seven players have a batting average above .300 led by sophomore Nick Martini’s .430 average. Freshman Blair DeBord is batting .394, senior Adam Muenster .378, junior Carter Jurica .370 and senior Daniel Dellesega .354.


“We’re doing a lot of the same things we did last year,” Muenster said. “We have a very aggressive approach and we have the freedom to swing at pitches early in the count.”


The confidence from last year is carrying over into this season it has shown in the results.


“It’s been kind of a slow process,” Coach Hill said. “We had a lot of questions going into last year. A lot of guys had above average seasons and last year kind of came into place. Now these guys have jumped on the bandwagon and we feel like we have a chance to do something great.”


Just two years ago, in 2008, the Wildcats had a .500 season at 29-29. Now 29 wins in a season might seem like an afterthought for the Kansas State program.


“Every year I’ve been here there’s been more growth,” Muenster said. “Our guys love the game and play hard. And we feel if we have that mentality the results will take care of themselves. I think everyone has bought into that.”


(photos courtesy of KSU Media Relations Office)