May 28, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
As time ticks down and the days turn into hours, reality hits K-State baseball's Ross Kivett more and more.
He is excited for the future - of course he is - however right now, in his final days in the Little Apple, his past is on his mind.
The senior from Broadview Heights, Ohio, who has forever etched his name into the K-State record book, has spent the past week saying his fair share of goodbyes. He's spent his final days in Manhattan reminiscing with the teammates who, over the course of four years, have become some of his best friends, and tomorrow he will drive down Highway 177 for the final time with Manhattan in his rearview mirror.
"I'm kind of in this shock phase; it's like I'm in denial and I don't think it's over," said Kivett. He let out a sigh and continued, "but when I start driving on Thursday, I know for a fact that it's going to hit me. That's going to be a tough last time driving away from this place."
Over the course of his four years, not only has Kivett helped K-State baseball reach two NCAA Regionals, win its first conference title in 80 years and go on to the program's first ever Super Regional, but he has also earned recognition on a personal level as last year he was named an All-American along with being named the Big 12 Player of the Year.
Though the final outcome may not have been what he had hoped for as a senior in 2014, he started every game for the Wildcats and batted .333 (70-for-210) with 13 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 33 RBI and 21 stolen bases, including a conference-leading 12 stolen bases during Big 12 play.
For his personal success in 2014, he earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors and had two Big 12 Player of the Week accolades. Also, who could forget Kivett hitting for a cycle on March 26 in the Wildcats' 12-6 win over Nebraska? It marked the first cycle by a Wildcat since 1997 and is a memory he won't soon forget.
His 80 career stolen bases are a K-State best, while he is second all-time in the Wildcat record book in both games played (255) and games started (215). Kivett ranks third all-time in hits (277), fifth in walks (108) and is tied for seventh in triples with 11.
"I don't know that (breaking records) was my goal coming in, but anyone that is competitive wants to be the best," said Kivett as he thought back to his early days at K-State. "My goal was to take this program to the next level. Last year, my teammates let me be a part of that ride as we took it to the next level. We had a little bit of a setback this year, but this team is in good hands."
Despite being selected in the 10th round of the MLB Draft by his hometown team, the Cleveland Indians, last summer, Kivett decided to return to K-State and play out his senior season.
Upon returning for his final year, one of his goals was to give back to the community that he felt gave so much to him, so Kivett spent time working with youth baseball camps, reading in classrooms and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. In March, he was selected as one of just 30 candidates nationwide for the Senior CLASS Award recognizing NCAA Division I student-athletes for excellence in community, classroom, character and competition.
Another goal of his was to keep up with his grades in the classroom, a feat he was rewarded for earlier this month as the communications major nabbed a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District 7 team. He was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, his second Academic All-Big 12 honor in his career.
"The Senior CLASS Award, that was pretty cool because that represents you as a person and not just as a player," said Kivett on what he is the most proud of. "My academic awards - Academic All-District team, All-Academic Big 12 - those were pretty cool, too. I'm very proud of being an All-American last year. Obviously earning (Big 12) Player of the Year is nice, but to be an All-American, you stuck out to the country as a good player and I'm very appreciative of that."
Though Kivett is sad to close this K-State chapter of life, he is, in fact, excited and ready to begin the next one.
"I'm going back to Cleveland for the week, and hopefully, God willing, I'll get picked up next Friday and then start up the minor league life," he said with a smile. "It won't be as luxurious as this, but I'm excited. When you're a little kid, your goal as a competitor is to be a big leaguer. The only way to get to the big leagues is through the minor leagues and I'm ready for that grind."
While the path ahead is a bright one for Kivett, the road behind is one paved with fond memories and no regrets. The second baseman who decided to put his professional dreams on hold to return to the school and the town that he loves now leaves K-State with a story that will go down as one of the greatest in Wildcat baseball history.
"I wish I had four more years," he said nearly choking up. "I'd do it all again in a heartbeat, and one of the best decisions I've ever made was coming back. It might not look like that on paper or with the results, but I'm really proud of where I played baseball. I'm proud of what I represented and it's because of the outside people in this community; the people who have put the spotlight on K-State baseball."
Kansas State's Ross Kivett celebrates tying run in the 9th inning vs. Oregon State at NCAA Super Regional in Corvallis, Oregon on June 8, 2013. Photo by Steve Dipaola