MANHATTAN, Kan. – For the first time in program history, the K-State baseball team has been selected to finish first in the Big 12 preseason poll as voted by conference coaches. The Wildcats, defending Big 12 champions, had never been picked higher than fifth (2011) in the annual preseason coaches poll.
The Wildcats received five first-place votes – their first time ever receiving first-place votes in the poll’s 16-year history – to finish with 56 points, five points ahead of Oklahoma State and TCU, which tied for second-place. K-State, Oklahoma State (2), TCU (2) and Texas (1) all received at least one first-place vote. Only six points separate the first through fourth-place teams in the preseason poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.
K-State was selected seventh in last season’s preseason conference poll before winning the Big 12 championship with a 16-8 record in conference-play. The Wildcats were the first team in the Big 12 to be picked seventh or worse in the preseason poll and win the regular season championship.
The Wildcats are the fourth team to move six spots or higher in the preseason poll from one year to the next.
The preseason favorite has gone on to win the Big 12 regular season championship on five occasions with the last being Texas in 2010. Four preseason No. 1 teams have won the postseason championship tournament, which will be held once again in Oklahoma City, Okla. this season.
The Wildcats, ranked as high as No. 18 in national preseason polls, return 19 letterwinners from last year’s Super Regional team. K-State features returning starting infielders Shane Conlon, Ross Kivett, Austin Fisher and RJ Santigate as well as starting catcher Blair DeBord.
The 2014 season starts on Friday, Feb. 14 at Cal Poly while the home opener at Tointon Family Stadium is Friday, Feb. 28 at 3 pm against Milwaukee.
The last K-State program to be picked first in a Big 12 preseason coaches poll was men’s basketball in the 2010-11 season.
2014 Big 12 Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Poll
1. K-State (5 first-place votes) – 56 points
2. Oklahoma State (2) - 51
TCU (2) - 51
4. Texas (1) - 50
5. Oklahoma - 37
6. Baylor - 26
7. West Virginia - 23
8. Texas Tech - 18
9. Kansas - 12