Beginning the 10th year under head coach Brad Hill, the Kansas State baseball team opened fall practice on Monday with a scrimmage at Tointon Family Stadium.
During the next six weeks, the Wildcats will conduct approximately 31 practices, ending with the K-State Fall World Series in late October.
The 2013 Wildcats will be looking to bounce back from a 27-31 mark last season — their first sub-.500 season since 2004. K-State won its final two series over KU and Texas Tech to finish 7-17 in the Big 12 and claim a spot in the league championship.
For K-State to improve upon its record from a year ago, the Wildcats will rely upon seniors Jon Davis, Jake Doller, Joe Flattery and Tanner Witt, as well as other top contributors from last year in Jared King and Ross Kivett.
The core of the roster will need to help acclimate a cast of 19 newcomers — the most since 2009 — to Division I baseball.
King earned second team All-Big 12 honors a year ago, while Witt was named honorable mention. A native of Dublin, Ohio, King captured the Big 12 regular-season batting title with a .378 average, while the junior finished in the top 10 of the conference in 10 offensive categories.
Witt, who put together the best season of his career last year, was in the top 15 of the Big 12 in five categories as a junior.
On the mound, K-State returns Flattery, a former community-college transfer that was 6-4 with a 4.37 ERA in 15 starts. The left-hander propelled the Wildcats into the postseason for a sixth-straight season when he tossed a complete game at Texas Tech, limiting the Red Raiders to just one run on six hits.
Sophomore relief pitcher Nate Williams is also back after collecting six saves, which set the K-State freshman record.
Hill enters the season just seven wins shy of becoming the second coach in school history with 300 victories. The Galva product is 293-224-1 (.567) at K-State, while he holds a career 711-315-3 record at four-year schools.
Josh Reynolds begins his third season as the team’s pitching coach and his sixth overall. Reynolds was a volunteer coach in 2005-06 and was a graduate manager in 2008 before returning prior to the 2011 season. Last season, Reynolds saw his pitching staff rank in the top 10 of four school categories, while he helped starting pitcher Kayvon Bahramzadeh turn his 7-4 senior campaign into a 24th-round draft selection by the Oakland Athletics.
Along with the 19 newcomers, Hill will also get new hitting coach Mike Clement acclimated to the program. Clement was hired this summer after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant on the Texas A&M staff.
Continuing the recent trend of former K-State players on staff, Drew Biery is back as an undergraduate manager as he obtains a second degree in secondary education after serving as the graduate manager in 2012. Additionally, former K-State relief pitcher Trevor Hurley is in his first year as a student assistant coach after spending the last five seasons playing in the Texas Rangers’ organization.
K-State opens the 2013 season on Feb. 15 at The Citadel Tournament in Charleston, S.C.