Baseball Holds First Spring Practice

MANHATTAN, Kan. With the start of the collegiate baseball season less than three weeks away, the Kansas State baseball team began its preparations for the 109th season in school history on Sunday with a workout at Tointon Family Stadium.

Kansas State, which begins its season Friday, February 20, with a three-game series at Houston, returns 14 letter winners including six position starters and five pitchers from a squad that went 29-29 overall, 11-16 in the Big 12 and advanced to the school’s first Big 12 Championship title game in 2008.

The Cats, who recorded the most conference victories and its highest conference finish (tied for sixth) since 2002, return five pitchers who combined for 21 starts in 2008. The Wildcats will rely heavily on junior A.J. Morris and seniors Lance Hoge and Todd Vogel, while sophomore Thomas Rooke, who tied for fifth in school history with 25 appearances out of the bullpen last year, could be called upon to start some games this year for the Wildcats, but is invaluable as the team’s top middle reliever.

Offensively, K-State returns four of its top five hitters from 2008, including junior infielder Justin Bloxom and senior outfielder Dane Yelovich. Bloxom led K-State in virtually every category last season, including batting average (.288), hits (63), RBI (49), triples (2), total bases (105), total plate appearances (252), at bats (219), games played (58) and games started (57). Yelovich finished with a .286 average and stole 18 bases, which was good for fourth in the Big 12.

Alongside Bloxom in the infield is expected to be sophomore Carter Jurica at second base, converted outfielder Jason King at third, while senior Drew Biery will man shortstop for the second-consecutive year.

The outfield will feature Yelovich in center field, while fellow senior, Jordan Cruz, will return to right field after beginning the 2008 season as the starter. Left field will be a battle between junior Adam Muenster and true freshman Nick Martini. Muenster, who will be a switch-hitter this season, could also see time at second base.

Rob Vaughn, a two-year starter at catcher, returns for his senior campaign, while a pair of juniors, Daniel Dellasega and David Masters, bring a wealth of experience and will challenge Vaughn for playing time.

Following the season-opening weekend at Houston, Kansas State will travel to San Diego, Calif., to participate in the USD Tournament against Pacific, Nevada, San Diego and San Diego State, February 26-March 1. The Cats will then return to Manhattan to kick off their 31-game home schedule on March 3, against Creighton.

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