Baseball To Hold First Spring Practice

MANHATTAN, Kan. - With the start of the collegiate baseball season exactly three weeks away, the Kansas State baseball team will begin preparations for the 110th season in school history on Friday with its first full-team workout of 2010 at 2 p.m.

Kansas State, which begins its season Friday, February 19, at The Citadel Shootout in Charleston, S.C., against Delaware, returns 16 letter winners from its historic 2009 run that ended in the program's first ever NCAA Regional.

Many familiar faces are back that helped lead Kansas State to a school-record 43 wins, finish fourth in the Big 12 and claim a spot in all of the final national polls, including a No. 19 ranking by Baseball America.

The 2009 Big 12 and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year Brad Hill will begin his seventh season in Manhattan, while pitching coach Sean McCann and Andy Sawyers return for their seventh and second seasons, respectively.

Junior infielder Carter Jurica, who earned Second Team All-Big 12 honors last season, returns along with Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honoree Nick Martini. Martini and right-handed pitcher James Allen return from their rookie campaigns in which they were named Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-Americans.

For the first time since 2005, Kansas State must replace all three weekend starters, beginning with the 2009 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and consensus All-American, A.J. Morris, but this year's squad will have more depth than any other year. In fact, seven pitchers return that recorded at least 10 appearances last season, the second most in Hill's seven-year tenure in Manhattan. Allen returns a team-leading five saves from 2009, while 2008 Freshman All-American Thomas Rooke, who has 57 career appearances in two seasons, will transition from a reliever to a starter for his junior season.

Rooke will likely join sophomore Justin Lindsey, who redshirted in 2009, and senior Ryan Daniel in the weekend rotation. The bullpen will be stocked with Allen, Evan Marshall and Matt Applegate, who combined for a 6-5 record and six saves in 76 appearances last season.

Much like its starting rotation, K-State must also replace nearly half of its offense from a year ago, but returns four of its top seven players from the top-hitting club in the Big 12 in 2009. Jurica is the leading returner after compiling a .353 batting average, but was closely followed by Martini at .336. An area in which the offense mostly stayed intact was on the base paths as the Wildcats return 57-percent of its 149 stolen bases from a year ago, including Adam Muenster, who had a team-high 24 steals and is 10 away from holding the school's career record.

Following the season-opening weekend that also features contests against East Tennessee State and Delaware, the Cats head to Florida to play eight games in nine days. The Sunshine State road trip begins at the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational in Winter Haven, Fla., on Saturday, February 27, as K-State plays Duquesne, Northeastern, St. Bonaventure, Western Michigan and Villanova on consecutive days. Following an off day, Kansas State will compete in the Bright House Invitational in DeLand, Fla., against host school Stetson, Notre Dame and Harvard.

The Wildcats open their 28-game home schedule on Friday, March 12, with a four-game series against Kent State.

For information about baseball tickets, including three different season-ticket options, call the Kansas State Athletic Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum at (785) 532-7606 or visit www.k-statesports.com.