Hard work and determination have fueled Kansas State baseball since Brad Hill was introduced as the 20th head coach in program history during the summer of 2003. And, in just 10 years, Hill has taken a program that was coming off six-straight seasons of bottom-half Big 12 finishes and turned it into a national power.
During his time as the K-State skipper, Hill has guided the Wildcats from the depths of the league to four NCAA Regional appearances, a Super Regional berth and the first conference championship since 1933. The success, which reached an all-time high in 2013, is a continuation of a stellar career in which Hill has amassed a winning percentage of .693 (756-334-3) at four-year schools, which ranks seventh nationally among active coaches.
Hill has also had a keen eye on evaluating talent and then developing those players as his squads have produced 57 draft selections since 2005, including 34 in the past five years alone and 27 that went undrafted out of high school. K-State has seen an increase each year of players taken in the MLB Draft, capped by a school record four top-10 round draft picks in 2011. In 2013, Jared King was drafted in the fifth round to give K-State five top-five round draft picks since 2009, equaling the total of the previous 43 years combined.
K-State baseball players have also gained numerous national accolades under Hill's guidance. In the first 106 years of the program, the Wildcats accumulated 14 All-American designations, while K-State has produced 20 All-America honors in the last seven seasons alone, including first team honors by A.J. Morris (2009) and James Allen (2011).
Not only has Kansas State baseball excelled on the field, but Hill has put an emphasis on his players' performance in the classroom. Under Hill, the Cats have had 60 Academic All-Big 12 selections as well as eight Academic All-District honors and two Academic All-Americans (Brett Scott in 2007 and 2008; Jason King in 2011). In addition, K-State's Academic Progress Rate (APR) has steadily improved, now reflecting an outstanding four-year average of 954.
The 2013 season proved to be the most storied in program history as Hill's players formed a unity unlike any other team early in fall camp and used that resilient togetherness to produce the school record for wins, the program's first Big 12 Championship and a NCAA Regional host site selection, while the Wildcats finished just one win shy of reaching the College World Series.
K-State, which was predicted to finish seventh in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches' Poll, made the biggest jump by a regular-season championship in league history as the Wildcats broke the school record for conference victories with 16. Teamed with the football and men's basketball titles in 2012-13, the baseball team completed a feat of conference championships in one academic year that had only been accomplished one other time in Big 12 history and just three other times nationally during the BCS era.
K-State, which set a school record for final ranking at 13th, used the Big 12 Championship and momentum in the conference tournament to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats, who were making just their fourth ever NCAA Regional appearance, swept the NCAA Manhattan Regional with wins over in-state rival Wichita State, Bryant and 13th-ranked Arkansas.
Hill, who was named the 2013 Big 12 Coach of the Year and ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year, saw a school-record seven players earn All-Big 12 First Team honors, including Player of the Year Ross Kivett, Freshman of the Year Jake Matthys and Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year Jared King. Both Kivett and King went on to earn All-America accolades.
Hill got the most out of his team when it counted the most in 2012 as he led the Wildcats to the postseason for the sixth-straight season. K-State won its way to the Big 12 Championship as it took two-of-three from Kansas in the home finale before winning the first two games in the regular-season series finale at Texas Tech - just the third series win in Lubbock in school history. Additionally, Hill tutored at least three players to All-Big 12 honors for a third-consecutive season, while K-State placed second on the Academic All-Big 12 squad, which tied the school record.
Although K-State reached another NCAA Regional in 2011, the beginning of the season did not go as planned for Hill and K-State as they were on the outside looking in when it came to qualifying for even the conference championship. After sitting at 20-15 overall and 5-10 in conference play, the Wildcats needed a strong finish just to make the conference tournament. That is exactly what happened as Hill tutored the Wildcats to a 16-8 finish in their final 22 games, including a 7-4 mark against league foes to place sixth in the Big 12 and qualify for their fifth-straight conference championship.
Hill's coaching and motivation didn't stop there as, at the Big 12 Championship, K-State defeated No. 12 Oklahoma twice to compile 36 wins and earn the program's third-straight NCAA tournament berth.
While many preseason prognosticators doubted the 2010 Wildcats, Hill raised the bar of success at K-State. The Cats continued their trend of improvement in 2010 as he guided his team to a third-place finish in the Big 12 standings - their highest since the league's inception in 1997, after K-State was predicted to finish as low as ninth in some Big 12 preseason polls.
K-State also registered the second most wins in school history with 37, second to the 2009 season total of 43, thanks in part to six players that earned All-Big 12 honors under Hill, including the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year Nick Martini. Hill also tutored Martini to second team All-American honors.
The 2009 season proved to be the most storied of its time. Predicted to finish ninth in the Big 12 Baseball Preseason Poll, Hill guided K-State to a school-record 43-win season - including a program-best 14 conference victories to finish fourth in the Big 12 regular season standings, the school's best finish since placing second in the Big Eight in 1990. The Cats earned their first Top 10 ranking during the season and finished the 2009 campaign in the national polls for the first time in school history when Baseball America ranked K-State No. 19 in its final poll.
Hill, who garnered 2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors, directed K-State to its first ever NCAA Regional appearance when the Cats earned an at-large berth as the No. 2 seed in the Houston (Rice) Regional. The Cats didn't stop there as they tallied a pair of victories in the regional, including one against No. 1 seed and home team Rice, to advance to the regional final.
Along the way, the 2009 Wildcats set numerous school marks, including season wins (43), Big 12 victories (14), Big 12 finish (fourth), hits (675), stolen bases (149) and strikeouts (453).
Hill also tutored Consensus All-American and Big 12 Pitcher of the Year A.J. Morris, two freshman All-Americans in James Allen and Nick Martini, and a total of seven All-Big 12 performers. Four Wildcats also earned First Team Academic All-Big 12 honors last season, while Jason King and Thomas Rooke were named Academic All-District.
Following the conclusion of the 2009 season, five Wildcats were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, improving Hill's total to 18 since he took over the program in 2004.
In just his first year, Hill jumped out of the gate and led the Wildcats to a 19-6 record in his first 25 games, including wins over perennial national powers Ohio State and Alabama and 2003 College World Series participant Missouri State. K-State also garnered its first-ever national ranking at No. 30 during that span, which included an 11-game winning streak.
Then, in 2005, the Wildcats took the next step as they won 30 games in a season for just the 10th time ever, doubled their conference wins from the previous season, swept a season series from in-state rival Wichita State for the first time in 50 years and knocked off a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in school history, eventual national champion Texas.
In 2006, the Wildcats won a school-record 16 straight games and also ended the season on a five-game winning streak, wrapping up the season with a sweep of No. 22 Baylor at Tointon Stadium. Statistically, K-State finished the season in the top half of the league in both hitting (.314) and ERA (3.94). The 3.94 team ERA was the lowest since the 1975 season and the best since the addition of aluminum bats in college baseball.
The 2007 campaign saw K-State finish with a 34-24 overall record, one win shy of tying the single-season mark, while the Wildcats advanced to postseason play for the first time since 2002. The Cats won 30 games for the third-straight season and also collected 10 wins in league play, the most since winning 13 in 2002. He also guided current Wildcat closer Daniel Edwards to third-team all-American honors, just the ninth Wildcat to earn All-American honors of any kind and the first since Kasey Weisaar in 1999.
The 2008 Wildcats, fielding a roster of 16 juniors and seniors, entered the season looking to become the first team in school history to reach the NCAA Tournament. K-State dropped early season contests, but started to catch a groove the second half of the season as they won two-of-three against No. 22 Oklahoma State, topped No. 11 UC-Irvine in a dramatic 11-inning affair, defeated No. 25 Texas, won at No. 8 Wichita State, and edged one of the top teams in 2008, No. 3 Arizona State, in its final non-conference game of the season.
In conference play, the Wildcats finished the 2008 season with 11 wins to tie for sixth, the most wins and the best finish at that point since 2002. Down the stretch, K-State won four of its final six conference games, including a sweep of in-state rival Kansas. The end of the season is all K-State needed for a boost in the conference tournament. Under the tutelage of Hill, the Cats defeated No. 6 Oklahoma State and Baylor to advance to the school's first Big 12 Title Game. Although K-State was defeated by No. 24 Texas, everyone involved with the program can see just how far the Wildcat baseball program had come in such a short time.
After an ultra-successful nine-year stint as the head coach at Central Missouri State (now the University of Central Missouri) in Warrensburg, Mo., Brad Hill took over a Kansas State program in 2004 that had just one winning season in the last six years.
Hill came to Kansas State after guiding the Mules to an impressive 418-91 (.821) overall record during his tenure. A seven-time Central Region Coach of the Year, he led UCM to the NCAA Tournament each of his nine seasons, including seven trips to the College World Series.
Hill capped his career at Central Missouri by helping the Mules win its second national championship in baseball and first since 1994. For his efforts, he was named the 2003 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and College Coach of the Year by the Midwest Professional Baseball Scouts Association. It marked the second time in three seasons that Hill coached the Mules to the championship game.
The national championship in 2003 came on the heels of back-to-back record-breaking years by Central Missouri in 2001 and 2002. The Mules posted a then school-record 53 wins in 2001 en route to advancing to their first championship game under Hill where they lost to St. Mary's of Texas by a score of 11-3. A year later in 2002, he broke the school record for wins yet again by posting 54 en route to a third place finish at the College World Series. The Mules' winning percentage of .838 (290-56) over the past six seasons ranks among the best in the nation.
Hill's .821 winning percentage ranks second in CMSU baseball history, a mere two points behind current Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn, who went 51-11 in his one season as coach in 1994. With 481 wins, Hill is the all-time winningest coach in school history with over 200 more victories than the coach in second place (248, Bob Tompkins, 1965-80).
Hill has a career head coaching record of 711-315-3 in 18 years at four-year schools, which includes nine seasons in Manhattan and nine years at Central Missouri State. His teams have won 40 or more games eight times and 50-plus games on four occasions.
Under Hill's guidance, a number of Central Missouri players earned national acclaim. He has seen 22 of his players earn All-America distinction as a first, second or third team selection, including 10 first-team honorees. Hill coached at least two All-Americans in eight of his nine seasons at Central, including four each in 2001 and 2002. He has coached one National Player of the Year in 2001 recipient, Chris Umphres, and back-to-back national defensive players of the year (Chris Curry in 2000 and Umphres in 2001). Hill has also helped five individuals earn Central Region Player and Pitcher of the Year accolades, including the last three Players of the Year. His influence extends off the field as well, as four players have earned Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-American honors.
The Mules dominated the Mid-American Athletic Association (MIAA) during Hill's tenure, winning eight conference titles and posting a 198-17 (.921) league mark. The seven-time conference coach of the year has coached six league most valuable players, two freshman of the year and one pitcher of the year. In all, 43 players have earned First Team All-MIAA honors under Hill.
In each of his last six seasons, Central Missouri led the MIAA in batting average, earned run average and fielding percentage. In 2003, the Mules not only led the league in all three categories, but also ranked in the top 10 nationally in the NCAA. CMSU ranked second in Division II in batting average (.363), fourth in scoring (9.7 runs/game), seventh in ERA (3.14) and 10th in fielding percentage (.968).
Before heading to Central Missouri in 1995, Hill was an assistant coach at the University of Kansas for four seasons under his college coach, Dave Bingham. As the Jayhawks' hitting coach and recruiting coordinator from 1991-94, he helped Kansas to a 144-92 overall record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, including the school's first and only trip to the College World Series in 1993. The 1993 team broke school records for most hits, doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in a single-season. Of note, the Jayhawks posted a 10-7 record against the Wildcats during Hill's tenure in Lawrence.
Prior to joining the Kansas coaching staff, Hill was the head coach at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan., for three seasons from 1988-90, compiling an 83-50 overall record. His 1989 squad posted a school-record 34 wins, while in 1990 the Dragons registered the highest winning percentage in school history with a 32-9 mark.
Hill graduated from Emporia State in 1985 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in health and physical education. He was a four-time NAIA All-America selection for Bingham and the Hornets from 1981-84. Hill capped off his stellar four-year career by helping ESU to the 1984 NAIA College World Series. For his efforts, he was named a second team All-American and the ESU Student-Athlete of the Year. A 1993 inductee into the ESU Athletic Hall of Honor, Hill still owns a majority of the Hornets' career offensive marks, including games played (244), at-bats (809), hits (302), runs scored (241), RBIs (264), doubles (71) and home runs (47).
Following his collegiate playing career, Hill spent four seasons in the Texas Rangers' minor league system before entering the coaching profession.
A native of Galva, Kan., Hill is a 1980 graduate of Canton-Galva High School where he was a three-sport athlete.
Hill and his wife, Crystal, have three children: sons Skylar Southards and Harrison, and daughter Shelby.