Sept. 26, 2011
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Coming off the program’s third-straight NCAA Regional appearance in 2011, the Kansas State baseball team began its fall practice Monday afternoon in preparation for the 2012 season on the newly completed AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D60 playing surface.
Over the next six weeks, the Wildcats will conduct approximately 25 practices, which precludes a five-game Fall World Series. The 2011 K-State Fall World Series is tentatively scheduled for October 30, through November 5, at Tointon Family Stadium, and all games are free to attend.
The final installation steps of the new AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D60 field were completed last week. The entire playing surface at Tointon Family Stadium is covered by the surface, with a natural-grass color in the infield, outfield and foul territory areas, and traditional clay-infield color covering the warning track, base paths, infield dirt area and the home-plate circle. Additionally, the K-State Powercat logo was retained behind the home-plate area, while the baseball-specific interlocking “KS” logo was installed in shallow center field.
The 2012 Wildcats return 20 letterwinners, including seven starting position players, from last year’s squad. It is the most returning letterwinners and starters since the 2008 squad had 22 and seven, respectively.
The Wildcats welcome back five of their top seven hitters from 2011 in Ross Kivett, Wade Hinkle, Freshman All-American Jared King, Dan Klein and Jake Brown. K-State also returns nine pitchers, including five that recorded at least three starts in Matt Applegate (16), Shane Conlon (6), Blake Freeman (6), Kayvon Bahramzadeh (5) and Levi Schlick (3).
Head coach Brad Hill enters his ninth year at the helm of the Wildcats, and he holds a record of 266-193-3 in Manhattan and 684-284-3 overall. He is second in school history in wins, while the Galva, Kan., native is third in winning percentage among coaches with five or more years at the helm of K-State behind Mike Ahearn (1904-10) and Charles Coursaut (1925-34, 1939).
Associate head coach John Szefc, who works with the hitters and runs the offense, is back for his second year in Manhattan, as is pitching coach Josh Reynolds. Both coaches were hired one month prior to the start of the 2011 season following staff changes.
Former Wildcat catcher Rob Vaughn takes over as the volunteer assistant coach after serving as a student assistant coach in 2011. Vaughn will be joined on the staff by two more former players in Drew Biery and Kent Urban. Biery returns to Manhattan as a graduate manager after spending three years in the San Francisco Giants organization. The shortstop was the 2009 Northwest League Player of the Year and advanced to Double A Richmond this past season. Urban takes over as a student assistant coach after spending the final two years of his collegiate career at K-State in 2010 and 2011.
Kansas State opens the 2012 season on Saturday, February 18, with a three-game series at Cal State Bakersfield. The three-game set is part of a seven-game road trip as the Wildcats will compete in the San Diego Tournament the next weekend against San Diego State, San Diego and Oregon State.
The Wildcats open their 30-game home slate on Friday, March 2, with a three-game series against Pacific. Affordable season-ticket options are available through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office. For more information about season tickets, fans can log on to www.k-statesports.com/tickets, call 1-800-221-CATS or visit the office inside Bramlage Coliseum.