RSU’s Klimas Named Coach of the Year

Rogers State Baseball Head Coach Chris Klimas was named the Heartland Conference Coach of the Year on Wednesday to lead the way for the Hillcats in conference honors.

Klimas was named the Heartland Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Hillcats to their first conference tournament appearance since joining the Heartland. Rogers State finished the regular season 31-16 overall and 14-7 in conference play, which earned the Hillcats the No. 2 seed heading into this week’s tournament. RSU was originally picked sixth to start the season in the preseason poll.

Grant Farris and Corey Murphy received First Team All-Heartland honors to lead the way for six Rogers State Baseball players honored.

Farris was named to the first team at first base after a tremendous senior campaign that included hitting .337 with 59 hits, 11 doubles, three triples and eight home runs. Farris started all 47 games for Rogers State this season, driving in 50 runs with 44 runs scored. He also had 32 walks and three hit by pitches to finish with a .443 on-base percentage. He also had a .571 slugging percentage to lead the team.

Murphy earned first team honors after setting an NCAA-era school record for wins in a season with nine victories. The typical game one starter for the Hillcats, Murphy, led the Heartland Conference in starts and finished second in wins. He posted a 3.22 era over 78.1 innings, with 54 strikeouts.

Fellow pitchers Jackson Simonsgaard and Brock Knoten, along with outfielders Brandon Bradshaw and Christian Merriwether, also received honors, as the four Hillcats were named to the All-Heartland Second Team.

Simonsgaard finished two wins behind Murphy and third overall in the Heartland with seven victories on the season. Simonsgaard had a 3.83 era with 82.1 innings pitched in 2019. The junior had 63 strikeouts to just 20 walks in the season moving from the bullpen to start the year into the Hillcats No. 2 role.

Knoten was the go-to closer for the Hillcats this season, finishing with a conference leading 12 saves, which was also sixth in the NCAA in 2019. A fifth-year senior, Knoten tossed 23.1 innings for the Hillcats with 23 strikeouts to 10 walks.

Bradshaw hit in the cleanup spot for the majority of the season for the Red and Navy, leading the team with a .339 batting average. Bradshaw finished the campaign with 56 hits, including 10 doubles, a pair of triples and a home run. The junior finished with 37 runs batted in and 33 runs scored, while also drawing 18 walks on his way to a .425 on-base percentage.

Merriwether started all 47 games for the Hillcats and finished the season with a .337 batting average. The leadoff hitter had a team-high 61 hits with seven doubles and a pair of home runs. Merriwether finished with 23 walks and 12 hit by pitches to finish with a team-high .444 on-base percentage. Merriwether also had 14 stolen bases on the season.

The Hillcats will return to action on Thursday with the opening round of the Heartland Conference Tournament. Rogers State will face Arkansas-Fort Smith with a first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. at The Depot at Cleburne Station in Cleburne, Texas.

 

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