Hard work and determination have fueled K-State baseball since Brad Hill was introduced as the 20th head coach in program history during the summer of 2003. And, in 14 years, the Kansas native has taken a program that was coming off six straight seasons of bottom-half Big 12 finishes and turned it into a national power.
During his time as the K-State skipper, Hill has guided the Wildcats from the depths of the league to four NCAA?Regional appearances, a Super Regional berth and the first conference championship since 1933. The success, which reached an all-time high in 2013, is a continuation of a stellar career in which Hill has amassed a winning percentage of .656 (863-451-3) at four-year schools.
In 2017, Hill became the Wildcats’ all-time leader in career wins with his 436th victory on April 22 against West Virginia, passing longtime coach Mike Clark. Hill enters the 2018 season with 445 wins in his 14 seasons at the helm.
Hill has also had a keen eye on evaluating talent and then developing those players as 51 Wildcats since 2005 have been selected in the MLB Draft, including 31 that went undrafted out of high school. In each draft from 2008-17, two or more Wildcats have been taken, with five or more being selected in six of the last 10. Also over the last 10 drafts, 14 Wildcats have been selected in the top 10 rounds, including pitcher Jordan Floyd (10th) in 2017 and Lucas Benenati (10th) in 2016. In total, over the last 14 years, K-State has produced 46 selections in the MLB Draft.
K-State baseball players have also gained numerous national accolades under Hill’s guidance. In the first 106 years of the program, the Wildcats accumulated 14 All-America designations, while K-State has produced 19 All-America honors in the last 11 seasons alone, including first team honors by A.J. Morris (2009) and James Allen (2011) and the most recent selections – Freshman All-Americans Will Brennan and Cameron Thompson in 2017.
Not only has K-State baseball excelled on the field, but Hill has put an emphasis on his players’ performance in the classroom. Under Hill, the Cats have had 84 Academic All-Big 12 selections as well as eight Academic All-District honors and two Academic All-Americans (Brett Scott in 2007 and 2008; Jason King in 2011). In addition, K-State’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) has steadily improved, now reflecting an outstanding four-year average of 947.
Despite missing out on the Big 12 Championship for the first time since 2014, the 2017 season saw the Wildcats post their first winning season since 2013, posting a 29-26 record that included wins over No. 4 South Carolina and No. 6 Texas Tech. Among the many highlights of the season, senior lefty Parker Rigler threw K-State’s first no-hitter since 1991 in a 14-0 shutout of Eastern Illinois on March 5.
2017 also held many individual accolades, including a pair of Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-Americans in Will Brennan and Cameron Thompson. The duo was also selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team after their freshman campaigns. Brennan, with his .350 average, set the program’s single-season hitting record for a freshman - a record that had stood since 1973 (Steve Anson, .346). Thompson led the team in hits (70), runs (41) and triples (4).
The Wildcat offense exploded with 51 home runs during the 2017 season, the most since 2009 and eighth-best output in program history. Jake Scudder’s 13 homers were the most by a K-State hitter since Carter Jurica hit the same number in the 2010 season. Scudder, along with three other Wildcats, were selected in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Coming off an unprecedented run in 2013 that carried with it preseason expectations never seen at K-State, the Wildcats finished 2014 with a 25-30 record and saw their seven-year run of reaching the Big 12 Championship Tournament come to an end. K-State did have several highlights during the 2014 campaign, however, including a 12-game winning streak in late February through mid-March, a streak that was the second-longest in program history. The Wildcats were also 16-9 at home, including 13-1 against nonconference opponents, and a pair of seniors, Kivett and RJ Santigate, were named to the ABCA Midwest All-Region Team. Both Kivett and Santigate (undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Angels) were among four Wildcats who went on to play professionally after the end of the season.
While the 2014 season fell short of expectations, the 2013 season proved to be the most storied in program history. Hill’s players formed a unity unlike any other team early in fall camp and used that resilient togetherness to produce the school record for wins, the program’s first Big 12 Championship and a NCAA?Regional host site selection. The year culminated with the Wildcats finishing just one win shy of reaching the College World Series.
K-State, which was predicted to finish seventh in the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, made the biggest jump by a regular-season champion in league history as the Wildcats broke the school record for conference victories with 16. Teamed with the football and men’s basketball titles in 2012-13, the baseball team completed a feat of conference championships in one academic year that had only been accomplished one other time in Big 12 history and just three other times nationally during the BCS?era.
K-State, which set a school record for final ranking at 13th, used the Big 12 Championship and momentum in the conference tournament to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA?Tournament. The Wildcats, who were making just their fourth-ever NCAA?Regional appearance, swept the NCAA?Manhattan Regional with wins over in-state rival Wichita State, Bryant and 13th-ranked Arkansas.
Hill, who was named the 2013 Big 12 Coach of the Year and ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year, saw a school-record seven players earn All-Big 12 First Team honors, including Player of the Year Ross Kivett, Freshman of the Year Jake Matthys and Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year Jared King. Both Kivett and King went on to earn All-America accolades as well.
Hill got the most out of his team when it counted the most in 2012 as he led the Wildcats to the postseason for the sixth-straight season. K-State won its way to the Big 12 Championship as it took two-of-three from Kansas in the home finale before winning the first two games in the regular-season series finale at Texas Tech - just the third series win in Lubbock in school history. Additionally, Hill tutored at least three players to All-Big 12 honors for a third-consecutive season, while K-State placed seven on the Academic All-Big 12 squad, which tied the then-school record.
Although K-State reached another NCAA Regional in 2011, the beginning of the season did not go as planned for Hill and K-State as they were on the outside looking in when it came to qualifying for even the conference championship. After sitting at 20-15 overall and 5-10 in conference play, the Wildcats needed a strong finish just to make the conference tournament. That is exactly what happened as Hill led the Wildcats to a 16-8 finish in their final 22 games, including a 7-4 mark against league foes to place sixth in the Big 12 and qualify for their fifth-straight conference championship.
Hill’s coaching and motivation did not stop there as, at the Big 12 Championship, K-State defeated No. 12 Oklahoma twice to compile 36 wins and earn the program’s third-straight NCAA tournament berth.
While many preseason prognosticators doubted the 2010 Wildcats, Hill raised the bar of success at K-State. The Cats continued their trend of improvement in 2010 as he guided his team to a third-place finish in the Big 12 standings - their highest since the league’s inception in 1997, after K-State was predicted to finish as low as ninth in some Big 12 preseason polls.
K-State also registered the third most wins in school history with 37, behind the 2009 (43) and 2013 (45), thanks in part to six players that earned All-Big 12 honors under Hill, including the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year Nick Martini. Hill also tutored Martini to second team All-American honors.
The 2009 season proved to be the most storied of its time. Predicted to finish ninth in the Big 12 coaches poll, Hill guided K-State to a then-school record 43-win season - including 14 conference victories to finish fourth in the Big 12 regular season standings, the school’s best finish since placing second in the Big Eight in 1990. The Cats earned their first Top 10 ranking during the season and finished the 2009 campaign in the national polls for the first time in school history when Baseball America ranked K-State No. 19 in its final poll.
Prior to joining the Kansas coaching staff, Hill was the head coach at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas, for three seasons from 1988-90, compiling an 83-50 overall record. His 1989 squad posted a school-record 34 wins, while in 1990 the Dragons registered the highest winning percentage in school history with a 32-9 mark (.781).
Hill graduated from Emporia State in 1985 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in health and physical education. He was a four-time NAIA All-America selection for Bingham and the Hornets from 1981-84. Hill capped off his stellar four-year career by helping ESU to the 1984 NAIA College World Series. For his efforts, he was named a second team All-American and the ESU Student-Athlete of the Year. A 1993 inductee into the ESU Athletic Hall of Honor, Hill still owns a majority of the Hornets’ career offensive marks, including games played (244), at-bats (809), hits (302), runs scored (241), RBIs (264), doubles (71) and home runs (47).
Following his collegiate playing career, Hill spent four seasons in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system before entering the coaching profession.
Hill has been inducted into several Hall of Fames throughout his career, including the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), Emporia State, Central Missouri State, and Kansas Babe Ruth Leagues.
A native of Galva, Kansas, Hill is a 1980 graduate of Canton-Galva High School where he was a three-sport athlete.
Hill and his wife, Crystal, have three children: sons Skylar Southards and Harrison, and daughter Shelby.
In two seasons in Manhattan, Kincaid has sent three Wildcat pitchers selected in the MLB Draft, including two in the first 10 rounds. Right-hander Lucas Benenati was selected in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds while lefty Jordan Floyd was taken in the 10th round by Kansas City in 2017. Fellow southpaw Parker Rigler was also taken in the 2017 Draft by Chicago (AL) in the 31st round.
Under the guidance of Kincaid, Rigler tossed K-State’s first no-hitter since 1991, and ninth ever, in a 14-0 victory over Eastern Illinois on March 5. In his senior season, Floyd set the program record for career appearances with 91. In addition to Riglers’ no-no, the Wildcat pitching staff tossed three more shutouts in 2017, the most in a single season since 2008.
In 2016, the K-State pitching staff that finished third in program history for total strikeouts in a single season with 440. The staff also combined to toss a pair of shutouts in Kincaid’s initial campaign, including a 1-0 win over UC Riverside in the season opener.
Kincaid established an impressive resume in the Golden State, rising from high school to the Division I level. For six seasons prior to joining K-State, the California native was the pitching coach at the University of San Diego, helping the program win two West Coast Conference (WCC) regular-season titles, capture one WCC Tournament championship and make three NCAA Regional appearances.
Kincaid gained a reputation as a strong recruiter and fine developer of pitchers. At USD, he helped 21 pitchers get selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, including 12 that were undrafted out of high school and/or junior college and seven taken in the top-10 rounds. From 2012-15, at least three pitchers from the San Diego pitching staff were drafted, with eight total over the last two seasons and six undrafted out of high school.
From a recruiting standpoint, Kincaid helped bring in two top-five nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including the second-ranked crop of incoming players in 2011. The 2014 recruiting class, meanwhile, was slotted as the fourth-best by Collegiate Baseball.
In Kincaid’s final season with the Toreros in 2015, San Diego won its sixth WCC regular season championship in program history behind a pitching staff that posted a 3.29 ERA in conference play. Kincaid helped groom David Hill into the WCC Pitcher of the Year and an All-American as the right-hander finished 14th in the country in strikeouts. As a team, the Toreros were 27th in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings.
Hill was one of two WCC Pitcher of the Year award winners and four All-Americans Kincaid helped develop at San Diego. In 2010, Kyle Blair became the first Torero hurler under Kincaid’s watch to earn the top pitching honor in the conference. Michael Wagner (2013) and two-way player Louie Lechich (2014) join Blair and Hill as the quartet of All-Americans.
Also, Kincaid’s San Diego pitching staffs earned 15 All-WCC honors and two Freshman All-WCC selections in the half-dozen seasons. While the entire weekend rotation – Blair, A.J. Griffin and Sammy Solis – picked up first team honors in 2010, a pair of twirlers, Hill and P.J. Conlon, were all-conference first team selections in 2015.
The 2010 San Diego pitching staff was stellar, providing Kincaid a group to remember in his first season on Alcala Park. Solis, who reached the Majors with the Washington Nationals, and Blair were drafted in the second and fourth rounds, respectively, after helping the Toreros finish 38th in the country in team ERA. Fellow weekend stalwart, Griffin, went on to be drafted in the 13th round and has pitched in the Majors for the Oakland A’s.
Kincaid holds a bachelor’s (Kinesiology) and master’s (Secondary Education) degree from San Francisco State. In addition to his time at three different colleges, he coached for five seasons with the Chatham A’s of the Cape Cod Baseball League, working with pitcher of the year award winners Andrew Miller (2005) and Tommy Milone (2007).
Gaspard enters his second season at K-State after serving as the head coach at Alabama from 2010-16, where he posted a record of 234-193 (.548) in his seven seasons in Tuscaloosa.
In his first season in Manhattan as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator, Gaspard helped guide the Wildcats to their first winning season since 2013 with a 29-26 record. Under his guidance, the K-State offense saw a boost with 51 home runs - its highest single-season output since 2009 - after a total of 30 in 2016.
Gaspard also tutored freshmen Will Brennan and Cameron Thompson to freshman all-America honors - the first time the program has seen a pair of freshman earn the honor since 2009. Brennan, who led the team with his .350 average, broke the program’s freshman hitting record that stood since 1973 (Steve Anson, .346).
Gaspard’s resume also includes a head coaching stint at Northwestern State (2002-07), while he has been an assistant coach at Houston (1988), Louisiana (1989-92), Northwestern State (1993-94) and Alabama (1995-2001, 2008-09).
Boasting a career head coaching record of 439-326 (.574), Gaspard led UA to consecutive NCAA Regional appearances on two occasions in 2010 and 2011, and again in 2013 and 2014. His 2010 squad won 42 games and advanced to a Super Regional, finishing just one victory shy of the College World Series. The Crimson Tide also advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional in 2011 and 2014.
Gaspard received his first head coaching opportunity in 2002 at Northwestern State and hit the ground running, accumulating a 210-138 (.603) record in six seasons and winning a pair of Southland Conference championships, one SLC Tournament championship and a berth in the 2005 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
Gaspard’s head coaching opportunities have come due to his hard work as an assistant and chief recruiter. As an assistant, Gaspard has been a part of five conference championship teams, 11 NCAA Regional squads, one conference tournament championship and three College World Series berths. As both an assistant and head coach, Gaspard has been in the dugout for more than 2,000 games and his teams have compiled a 1,280-718-3 (.640) record.
During Gaspard’s time as an assistant at Alabama from 1995-2001 and again from 2008-09, the Crimson Tide won the 1995 SEC Tournament and finished one victory shy of the College World Series. Throughout the rest of his first tenure in Tuscaloosa, Gaspard helped UA earn six NCAA Regional appearances and three CWS berths, including a national championship game loss to LSU in 1997. He came back in 2008 and helped UA to another regional showing in 2009 before taking over the program prior to the 2010 season.
Gaspard has also been proven to be an accomplished talent evaluator, from 1995-2001 as Alabama’s chief recruiter, the Crimson Tide’s recruiting classes ranked in the top-20 nationally five times, including three straight top-10 classes according to Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
Although he may be an accomplished recruiter, Gaspard has been equally successful in developing talent as his career record has shown, but he has also coached players to a combined 77 draft picks in his 29 years, including 25 that were selected in the top 10 rounds of the MLB Draft.
Gaspard began his collegiate playing career for the legendary Skip Bertman as LSU before transferring to Houston. Born on May 26, 1965, Gaspard is married to the former Kim Howell, and the couple has two daughters, Brae and Paeton.
Conlon enters his second year as a volunteer assistant coach with Kansas State baseball. Conlon was a four-year letterwinner for the Wildcats from 2011-15, including leading the Wildcats to their only Super Regional appearance in 2013.
In his first season as an assistant, Conlon helped K-State to a 29-26 overall record, its first winning season since the 2013 season. Conlon helped guide the Cats to victories over No. 4 South Carolina and No. 6 Texas Tech.
Conlon saw four Wildcats from the 2017 squad get selected in the last MLB Draft: Jordan Floyd (10th round, Kansas City), Jake Scudder (16th round, Washington), Parker Rigler (31st round, Chicago [AL]) and Josh Rolette (39th round, Cleveland).
During his career at K-State, Conlon posted a .300 career batting average and became the 18th Wildcat in program history to record at least 200 hits while also being just one of two Wildcats since 1997 to be named First Team All-Big 12 twice and was a unanimous selection in 2015.
Conlon began K-State’s magical 2013 season with a 15-game hitting streak on his way to posting career highs in every major statistical category that season, while finishing second in the Big 12 with 56 runs scored and third with 125 total bases. His seven home runs tied for the team lead while posting 25 multi-hit games while leading the Wildcats to a game away from the College World Series.
The Naperville, Illinois, native was selected in the 21st round by the Kansas City Royals in the 2013 MLB draft but did not sign and returned to K-State. After his collegiate career finished, he was selected by the Oakland A’s in the 34th round of the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft and spent a season with the A’s rookie league affiliate in Arizona.
In the minor leagues, Conlon recorded a .327 average with four doubles and 18 RBI.
Conlon and his wife, the former Kim Fairchild, currently reside in Manhattan.