Jordan Wicks’ fantastic freshman campaign brought recognition from the Big 12 Tuesday.
Wicks, a starting pitcher for Kansas State, won the conference’s Freshman of the Year award, voted on by the league’s coaches, who were not permitted to nominate their own players. In addition, Wicks earned spots on both the All-Big 12 second team and the league’s All-Freshman team.
Teammate Griffin Hassall joined Wicks on the All-Freshman Team while Wildcats Zach Kokoska, Caleb Littlejim, Terrence Spurlin and Cameron Thompson all were honorable mention all-conference nods.
Wicks is just the second K-State player ever to win the Freshman of the Year award, joining fellow pitcher Jake Matthys in 2013. Wicks posted a 6-2 record and led all Big 12 freshmen with a 3.20 earned run average while striking out 82 in 81 2/3 innings with just 24 walks allowed during the regular season.
Wicks, an Arkansas native, set single-season school records for innings pitched and strikeouts by a freshman, marks previously held by Andy Replogle in 1973. Wicks was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on April 15 after tossing a five-hit shutout at Texas to help secure the Cats’ first-ever shutout of the Longhorns and clinch a road series over a top-25 team for only the second time ever.
Joining Wicks — a unanimous pick — on the All-Freshman Team was another Wildcat starting pitcher in Hassall. In 10 starts this season (nine in series openers), Hassall recorded a 4.25 ERA with 35 strikeouts. On April 22, Hassall was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week after tossing a career-long 7 2/3 innings with one run allowed in a 7-4 win against No. 19 TCU.
Hassall’s victory over the Horned Frogs was the second in back-to-back victories over top-25 teams; he also threw five innings of one-hit baseball in a 6-4 win over No. 14 Texas on April 12. In those two victories, Hassall combined to allow just two earned runs on four hits over 12 2/3 innings.
Hassall and Wicks become the third set of Wildcat teammates to be selected to the All-Freshman Team, which began in 2011.
Kokoska, a sophomore transfer in his first season with K-State, earned the honorable mention accolade after leading the team in batting average (.329), on-base percentage (.409) and slugging percentage (.514). He also led the Wildcats in batting average in conference-only contests at .338 in addition to a team-best 12-game hit streak during one stretch of the season. Kokoska has hit seven home runs and recorded 30 RBIs in 2019.
Littlejim’s honorable mention came after he hit six home runs and was second on the team with 33 RBI in his first season playing the field. He’s posted a team-best 12 multi-RBI games and is the team leader in two-out RBI with 21. A two-way player, Littlejim also appeared on the mound 16 times, with a 5-3 record and a 4.89 ERA. Littlejim made four straight weekend starts to end the regular season.
A sophomore, Spurlin started 50 games at first base after not starting a single game last year. Spurlin boasted a slash line of .278/.335/.466 with seven homers and 32 runs batted in. Spurlin was named Big 12 Player of the Week on May 13 after his first career two-homer game against the Mountaineers.
Thompson, an All-Big 12 second-team honoree in 2017, has started all 165 games in his Wildcat career. He’s notched a career-best five home runs while registering a team-high 19 multi-hit games this season.
K-State and its All-Big 12 honorees now turn their attention to the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.
K-State will face top-seeded Texas Tech at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Results of the game will be in Thursday’s print edition of The Mercury.
ALL-BIG 12 HONORS
Freshman of the Year: Jordan Wicks, Fr., Conway, Ark.
All-Big 12 Second Team: Wicks
Big 12 All-Freshman Team
• Griffin Hassall, Fr., Newmarket, Canada
• Zach Kokoska, So., Latrobe, Pa.
• Caleb Littlejim, Jr., Little Axe, Okla.
• Terrence Spurlin, So., Cypress, Texas
• Cameron Thompson, Jr., Pasadena, Texas