K-State Begins Spring Practices Friday

MANHATTAN, Kan. With the start of the collegiate baseball season three weeks away, the Kansas State baseball team will hold its first full-squad workout Friday, February 1, beginning at 2 p.m.

Kansas State, which begins its season Friday, February 22, at California, will field a wealth of experience as 11 position players and 11 pitchers return from a squad that went 34-24 overall, 10-16 in the Big 12 and returned to the postseason for the first time since 2002 as the squad advanced to the Big 12 Championship.

The Cats, who came within one victory of tying the single-season school mark, bring 11 of 13 hurlers from 2007, led by senior right-handers Brad Hutt and Daniel Edwards. Hutt went 9-4 tying the school record for wins in a season and collected a 3.07 ERA. Edwards, a NCBWA Preseason All-American, PING! Preseason All-American and a member of the 2008 Brooks Wallace Award Watch list returns to anchor the back end of the Wildcat bullpen as he begins his second season as the Wildcat closer. In 2007, Edwards collected 11 saves tying the school record with a perfect 3-0 record and a 2.27 ERA. For his efforts, Edwards was named First Team All-Big 12 and was drafted in the 27th Round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, but opted to finish out his K-State career. Senior Chase Bayuk, who started 14 games last season and junior Ben Hornbeck, who got the starting nod 10 times in 2007, return and vie for starting duties once again. Juniors Justin Murray, Trevor Hurley, Todd Vogel and sophomores A.J. Morris and Tyler Ruch will also push for starting jobs.

Offensively, the Cats return three of their top five hitters from 2007, including junior centerfielder Byron Wiley. Wiley led K-State in seven different categories last season, including batting average (.366), hits (71), RBI (44), runs scored (42), home runs (7), walks (43) and on-base percentage (.494). The Tomball, Texas, native ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 27th nationally in walks during the 2007 campaign and his .494 on-base percentage was tops in the conference.

Along with Wiley in the outfield, sophomore Adam Muenster is the returning starter in left, while senior Derek Bunker and junior Jordan Cruz will battle for starting duties in right. Junior Dane Yelovich, sophomores J.J. Muse and Ruch and freshman Jason King will all compete for playing time as well.

The infield returns experience all around the diamond. Sophomore first baseman Justin Bloxom is coming off a season-ending injury in 2007 after starting the first half of the season at first base. Senior second baseman Brett Scott shared starting duties last year with departed senior Eddie Vasquez and will become the full-time starter in 2008. Junior third baseman Nate Tenbrink begins his second year as the full-time starter at the hot corner, while junior Drew Biery, who saw starting time last year at first base while backing up departed senior Eli Rumler at shortstop, will make the complete transition to short. True freshman Carter Jurica will push Biery and Scott for one of the middle infield spots, while King could also see playing time at third.

Behind the plate, junior Rob Vaughn returns for his second full season as the starter, while sophomore Daniel Dellasega, who was the backup to Vaughn last season, returns and will challenge for playing time as he continues to gain experience.

Following the season-opening weekend against California and Santa Clara, Kansas State will travel to Beaumont, Texas, to take part in the Cardinal Classic, February 28-March 2, as it faces Arkansas State, host school Lamar and Michigan State. The Cats will then head west to San Antonio for two against UT-San Antonio before returning to Manhattan to open its home slate Friday, March 7, against Le Moyne.

For ticket information, please call the Athletic Ticket Office at 800-221-CATS or locally at 532-7606.