Hill, Morris Honored By Big 12 Coaches

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. Kansas State head baseball coach Brad Hill and junior right-hander A.J. Morris headlined eight Wildcats that earned accolades from the Big 12 coaches as the 2009 Big 12 postseason awards and All-Big 12 teams were announced Tuesday at the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships.


Hill, in his sixth season at K-State, earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors as he guided Kansas State to a 39-win season, including 14 conference victories to finish fourth in the league, all school bests. The Wildcats also earned their highest ranking in school history as they were No. 10 in the Baseball America Top 25 earlier in the season.


“This award isn’t about me, it’s about the players,” Hill said. “Our seniors decided this was going to be their team and they were going to take charge and be coaches on the field.”


Hill became the first Kansas State coach since Mike Clark in 1990 to be named conference coach of the year.


The top pitcher in the conference all season long, Morris was named the 2009 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. The Humble, Texas, product paced the league in wins (12), ERA (1.61), innings pitched (100.2), was second in complete games (4) and third in opponent batting average (.203). Morris’ 12 wins, which are the best in school history, rank 10th in Big 12 history for a single-season.


“I am very appreciative of the league’s coaches for honoring me with this award,” said Morris. “I wouldn’t have this award without Rob Vaughn behind the plate and a great defense behind me. This is truly a team award.”


Morris also earned First Team All-Big 12 accolades to lead seven Wildcats that were named all-conference for the first time in their careers. The seven honorees were the most since the Wildcats had eight selections in 2001.


Sophomore infielder Carter Jurica earned second-team accolades from the coaches after leading the conference’s top hitting team with a .366 average, which was third in the Big 12 individually. Jurica also finished the regular season third in stolen bases (21), fourth in hits (78), and fifth in both runs scored (57) and on-base percentage (.442).


Seniors Drew Biery and Jordan Cruz, junior Justin Bloxom, sophomore Jason King and freshman Nick Martini were each named honorable mention All-Big 12.


The Wildcats will begin Pool 1 play at the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship against No. 5 seed Kansas at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning at Bricktown Ballpark. The Cats will then face No. 8 seed Baylor at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday before an off day on Friday. Kansas State takes on regular-season champion Texas in a rematch of the 2008 title game at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of each pool will meet in the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FSN.