Jared King opened the season as the prevailing pick for Big 12 Player of the Year.
And through a few bumps and bruises and a so-called slump, King proved to be just that, leading Kansas State to a Big 12 championship.
Developing into an outstanding defensive outfielder, King, The Oklahoman's Player of the Year, always had the bat. And he did again this year, hitting .342 and driving in 46 runs, ranking third in the conference. Yet his biggest impact may have just been providing fear from the Wildcats' cleanup spot.
“What he did was his presence allowed a lot of other guys to have great years,” said K-State coach Brad Hill. “We had several players put up strong numbers.
“Jared was still the focal point.”
K-State leads the Big 12 in hitting and ranks second nationally with a .324 team batting average. All nine regulars are batting .304 or better.
Despite an inconsistent start, King turned it on late in the regular season, when the Wildcats were charging to the title, with more than half of his RBIs coming in the final 25 games. King also hit six home runs, scored 42 runs and stole 12 bases.
“There was a lot to live up to for Jared,” Hill said. “He was the Preseason Player of the Year. He's a projected high draft pick, so a lot of people have been in to see him. And he handled it.
“He came on late and he came up with some big hits.”
By John Helsley