Tournament Round-Up; Eight Jayhawks Earn Big 12 Honors
May 21, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A little more than a year ago Kansas closer Jordan Piché was filling coaches’ email inboxes looking for a place to play. With nearly 100 inquiries sent, it’s safe to say there are nearly 100 programs wishing they would’ve been as responsive as the Jayhawks. The junior college transfer was named the Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year, in addition to being named to the All-Big 12 First Team, as one of eight Jayhawks honored by the league Tuesday in preparation for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.
Piché, the Big 12 saves leader who attended Indian Hills Community College for two seasons before coming to Kansas, was named among the conference’s top players along with Michael Suiter, who earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors, and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selections Alex DeLeon, Ka’iana Eldredge, Kevin Kuntz, Justin Protacio, Dakota Smith and Thomas Taylor. Piché is Kansas’ first All-Big 12 First Team selection since 2010 and the eight honorees are the most for Kansas since 10 players were recognized following the 2005 season.
Piché finished his first Big 12 season with a 3-3 record and five saves against conference foes en route to Newcomer of the Year honors. He is just the second Jayhawk to claim the award. The right-handed relief pitcher posted a 2.20 ERA, 10th-best in conference games, and allowed eight runs and five walks in 32.2 innings of work. Piché was the recipient of three Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors this season, becoming the first player to earn more than two in a single season since the award began in 2011.
“It’s a great compliment to the year Jordan just had,” Kansas head coach Ritch Price said. “Look at the impact he’s made on our team – we’ve got 31 wins, finished 12-12 in our league largely because he’s been so special at the back end of our games. David Narodowski won the same award in 2009 and we made the NCAA Tournament, so hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come, and hopefully we’ll hand that ball to him with the lead a couple times this week in the ninth inning.”
Additionally, the Big 12 Conference announced that it would continue with plans to play the tournament at Bricktown Ballpark in downtown Oklahoma City, after receiving affirmation from local officials that it would be the right thing to do despite Monday’s devastating tornado in Moore, Okla., a south OKC suburb. The conference will delay the start of the tournament from Wednesday to Thursday, and adjusted the format to pool play with the same divisions as the previous double-elimination tournament was set up. The Jayhawks will open championship play against West Virginia at 4 p.m. Thursday, and will play both Oklahoma State and TCU in single games Friday and Saturday.
The Big 12 Conference is working on a collective way to support the victims of the Moore tornado, but each team is taking an opportunity to do its small part. Jayhawk players collected more than $1,200 of their own money and planned to purchase requested supplies to donate Wednesday afternoon.
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