Also See: K-State Scores Record Marks in Latest APR Report
WILDCATS FACE SOONERS IN TOURNEY OPENER
By Mark Janssen
"I hope so. I hope we'll have some," said K-State head coach Brad Hill when asked about the momentum gained from sweeping Kansas entering the Big 12 Tournament opener at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Oklahoma City against Oklahoma. "We had one bad inning of defense, but we pitched it pretty well and we swung the bats really well. We were consistent and had some gutty performances."
With the three-game sweep of the Jayhawks, the Wildcats climbed to 34-21, which includes a 12-14 Big 12 record. The 34 overall wins and 12 league wins both tie for fourth-most in school history.
Earlier in the season, K-State took two of three games from the Sooners, which included an opening 2-0 victory where K-State's Kyle Hunter out-dueled Michael Rocha. Expected to be matched again tonight will be Rocha (10-3, 1.82 ERA) and Hunter (5-4, 4.18 ERA).
At the plate, OU leads the league with a .316 team average, which includes team leader Cameron Seitzer (.347). K-State is hitting .283 as a team with Nick Martini leading with a .343 average.
FOUR 'CATS NAMED ALL-BIG 12: K-State had four players earn all-conference accolades from the league coaches on Tuesday.
Junior relief pitcher James Allen earned first-team honors, junior third baseman Jason King and freshman outfielder Jared King were named to the second team and junior outfielder Nick Martini was placed on the honorable mention squad. The Wildcats have placed at least four players on the all-conference teams for three straight seasons.
Allen's designation marks the third-straight season the Wildcats have had a first-team honoree and he is the sixth player named to the first team since 2007. Jared King is the first Wildcat freshman named either first- or second-team all-conference since Andy Replogle in 1973. In addition, Jared King was also earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
The Wildcats have totaled 17 all-conference honorees over the past three years. Since head coach Brad Hill's first season in 2004, Kansas State has had 30 players named All-Big 12.
ALLEN A HOWSER SEMIFINALIST: K-State junior closer James Allen is one of 36 players nationally to be named a semifinalist for the 2011 Dick Howser Trophy.
The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of former Florida State All-America shortstop and major league player and manager, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award. It is the first time Allen has been in contention for the award in his career, and he is the first Wildcat to be named a semifinalist for the award since A.J. Morris in 2009.
Allen is one of just three Big 12 players on the list, joining Texas' Taylor Jungmann and Cory Knebel, while Allen and Knebel are joined by Matt Price of South Carolina as the only three relief pitchers named semifinalists.
Allen holds a 3-1 record with a 1.46 ERA and 15 saves this season. His save total was tied for third nationally entering the weekend and is the top mark in school history. The right-hander also holds the school career saves' record at 29.
In addition to being named a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist, Allen is also on the midseason watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year award and is a quarterfinalist for the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year award.
JUST GET THE GAME TO THE SEVENTH: Along with Allen, setting up the finish of games has been Evan Marshall with his 1.67 ERA, 4-5 record and one save.
Teams are hitting just .183 against Allen and .209 against Marshall. Allen has fanned 40 and walked just five, while Marshall has 48 strikeouts to just nine walks.
"We've had some good ones come through here, but I can't think of a better pair than these two," said Hill.
• The 2011 Wildcats became the seventh team in school history with 100 steals in a season. The 2011 squad is currently fourth in school history with a Big 12-leading 117 swipes and is two away from tying for third.
• The Wildcats have hit .316 (227-of-719) over the last 21 games to raise their average 21 points to .283. K-State ranked seventh in the conference before the stretch, but is now fourth in the league in hitting.
• Kansas State currently has four pitchers that have thrown 15.0 innings or more with an ERA less than 4.00. The last time the 'Cats finished the season with more than four pitchers holding an ERA less than 4.00 was 1974 (8).
• Freshman outfielder Jared King is second in K-State history in home runs by a freshman. He is two shy of Brett Reid's record of 10 in 1999.
• Jason King entered last weekend with the national lead in sacrifice flies. He now holds the school's career (22) and single-season (12) records.
CARDIAC CATS: Kansas State has been involved in many close games this season as 25 of its 55 games have been decided by one or two runs, including 20 one-run contests in which the Wildcats are 9-11. K-State had been on the losing end of many one-run games earlier in the season, dropping nine of its first 14, before winning three in a row.
REGIONALS? K-State is playing for its third consecutive appearance in NCAA Regional play, but it has work to do.
"I really don't know what we need to do, but win some more games," said Hill. "I would say if we can beat Oklahoma and beat Texas A&M in the second game, that might put us in. But it may take more."
BIG 12 PAIRINGS: The Big 12 Tournament has returned to a double-elimination format for the first time since 2005. On K-State's side of the bracket are No. 2 seed Texas A&M, No. 3 seed Oklahoma, No. 6 seed K-State and No. 7 seed Texas Tech.
WEDNESDAY: 9 a.m. - Oklahoma State vs. Baylor; 12:30 p.m. - Texas vs. Missouri; 4 p.m. - Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech, 7:30 p.m. - Oklahoma vs. K-State.
THURSDAY: 9 a.m. - Losers Games 1-2; 12:30 p.m. - Losers Games 3-4; 4 p.m. - Winners Games 1-2; 7:30 p.m. - Winners Games 3-4
Play will continue in the double-elimination tournament on Friday and Saturday with the title game scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.
FINAL BIG 12 STANDINGS: Texas 19-8, Texas A&M 19-8, Oklahoma 14-11, Oklahoma State 14-12, Baylor 13-14, K-State 12-14, Texas Tech 12-15, Missouri 11-15, Nebraska 9-17, Kansas 9-18
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.