Kansas State won the Big 12 regular season championship Friday night, in fitting fashion.
That's been the Wildcats' mantra, ever since last season ended.
After finishing 27-31 overall and 7-17 in the conference a year ago, Big 12 coaches picked K-State for seventh in the preseason poll. Today, the 'Cats stand 39-16 and 16-8 and can call themselves champions for the first time in the Big 12 and the first time in any conference since sharing the Big Six crown in 1933.
The clincher came Friday night, when the Wildcats rallied twice against Oklahoma, eventually winning 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning on a bases-loaded passed ball.
“It was a special year,” said K-State coach Brad Hill. “And a lot of it was last year, not a year we wanted to have or expected to have. We were committed to being better. Our leadership was just outstanding. They made sure we were preparing right and doing the right things.”
He was talking about his players, yet leadership starts at the top — with Hill, The Oklahoman's Big 12 Coach of the Year.
In his 10th year at K-State, after arriving from Central Missouri, Hill has transformed the program, last year's slip being the exception. A crowd of 3,589 gathered for the hopeful celebration Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan. Now the Wildcats are ranked No. 15 in the Baseball America poll and in the mix to host an NCAA Tournament regional.
By John Helsley