Top 10 Moments of the 2000s: No. 4
Top 10 Moments of the 2000s: No. 4
Note: This is the seventh edition of a 10-part series chronicling the top 10 Kansas State Baseball moments of the 2000s, counting down to the Wildcats' 2010 season opener on February 19 against Delaware. The events were voted on by an eight-person panel consisting of: Head Coach Brad Hill; former Head Coach and Director of Development Mike Clark; Associate Athletics Director Casey Scott; Director of Baseball Operations Justin Tadtman; Sports Information Director Kenny Lannou; Baseball SID Ryan Lackey; and the Voices of K-State Baseball, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters.
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Mike Clark kept Kansas State baseball afloat. When he retired, Brad Hill brought a winning attitude.
Hill was hired as the 20th head coach in school history on June 3, 2003, following an ultra-successful nine-year stint as the head coach at Central Missouri State (now the University of Central Missouri).
Hill came to K-State as the winningest active Division II coach in the nation after guiding the Mules to an impressive 418-91 (.821) overall record during his tenure. He was named the Central Region Coach of the Year seven times, while he led CMSU to the NCAA Tournament in each of his nine seasons, including seven trips to the College World Series.
In his final game at Central Missouri State, his Mules won the 2003 NCAA Division II National Championship, while he was named the 2003 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year.
Following his first year at K-State in which the Wildcats went 26-30, Hill led Kansas State to three-straight 30-win seasons from 2005-07, the first accomplishment for the program since 1989-91.
In 2007, Hill guided K-State to a 34-win season - one victory shy of the school record - and the program's first Big 12 Championship appearance since 2002.
The following season, the Cats got off to a slow start, but Hill and the Wildcats won 11 games in Big 12 play - the most since 2002 - four of which game in the final six conference games, including a sweep of in-state rival Kansas. The late-season run propelled K-State to its second-straight Big 12 Championship for the first time in school history.
Under the tutelage of Hill, K-State defeated No. 6 Oklahoma State and Baylor to advance to the 2008 Big 12 Championship title game, the first in program history. And, although the Cats lost to No. 24 Texas, that late-season run set the stage for Hill and Kansas State in 2009.
Kansas State won a school-record 43 games in 2009 under the guidance of Hill - including a school-best 14 Big 12 games to finish fourth in the regular season standings, the school's best finish since placing second in the Big Eight in 1990.
Hill directed K-State to its first-ever NCAA Regional in 2009 when the Cats earned an at-large berth as the No. 2 seed in the Houston (Rice) Regional. Kansas State didn't stop there as it tallied a pair of victories in the regional, including one against No. 1 seed and home-standing Rice, to advance to the regional final. Hill also guided K-State to a No. 19 ranking in the final Baseball America poll of the year, the first time the Cats were ranked in a final top 25 poll.
For his efforts, Hill was named the 2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year, as well as the 2009 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year.
When Hill was hired back in 2003, it only took a few seasons to give Kansas State a winning mentality; one the Wildcats have had since 2005. And with Brad Hill at the helm, Kansas State baseball is in good hands.
Top 10 K-State Baseball Moments of the 2000's
No. 10: Into the Bottom of the 20th We Go... (2/9)
No. 9: Cats Top KU Before Record Crowd (2/10)
No. 8: Hill, Morris Garner National Awards (2/11)
No. 7: K-State Advances to First Big 12 Tournament (2/12)
No. 6: Cats Take Two at No. 2 Texas
No. 5: Clark Retires as Winningest Coach in School History (2/14)
No. 4: Brad Hill Hired as Head Coach (2/15)
No. 3: February 16
No. 2: February 17
No. 1: February 18