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Oklahoma’s Kolbey Carpenter had a team-best .376 batting average with eight home runs and 37 RBIs this season.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte, file

Some guys are catchers, some guys are pitchers. Some are natural-born leadoff hitters, others wouldn’t be comfortable in that spot.

Kolbey Carpenter is just a baseball player.

The Oklahoma junior started at four different positions for the Sooners this season and moved up and down the batting order before settling in the three-hole. Ultimately, it didn’t matter where he landed, because Carpenter excelled wherever OU coach Pete Hughes used him.

“I’m pretty versatile, I’ve kind of played all over the infield at different times,” Carpenter said. “Because of different injuries to guys, I’ve been asked to move around a lot. I’m kind of used to it.”

Carpenter proved to be the Sooners’ caulk gun, because he filled in the cracks whenever a hole arrived. A former West standout who was Super Centex Player of the Year as a senior, Carpenter hit a team-best .367 with 49 runs scored, eight home runs, 37 RBIs and a .538 slugging percentage for the Sooners this season. His 36 hits in Big 12 play led the conference, and he also ranked third in the league in runs, fourth in total bases and fifth in RBIs. He tied a Big 12 record by winning the Player of the Week honor three times.

All that, while earning starts at first base, second base, left field and designated hitter.

Carpenter said that, more than anything else, this year was a testament to the importance of preparation.

“I put a lot of work in over the offseason last year, and I think that really helped,” Carpenter said. “I worked on my swing speed, worked on getting stronger, put in a lot of time in summer ball. That work paid off when I was able to be in the lineup every day and really help the team.”

West coach Cory Beckham, who has continued to follow the career of his old protege, hasn’t been surprised at Carpenter’s development. He remembers Carpenter being one of the most motivated players he’s ever coached.

“I knew that it might take some time to adjust as a college player, because that’s a whole other level,” Beckham said. “But once he settled in and made a few adjustments, his competitive nature took over. He’s got such a strong mind and a competitiveness that is out of this world, and that’s what takes him to the top.”

Carpenter pummeled a Class 3A-record 48 home runs during his career at West. He had a number of college suitors, but felt most comfortable at Oklahoma. He hit .264 with 24 RBIs while making 50 starts his freshman year, then endured offseason shoulder surgery following that season. He was limited to just 34 games a sophomore, but still hit .300 and clubbed the game-winning hit in a game against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.

After a strong summer season with the Brazos Valley Bombers of the Texas Collegiate League, Carpenter made a significant leadoff jump in his development this year.

He is draft-eligible for the upcoming Major League Draft, which will be held June 8-10. It seems only a matter of time before he joins the professional ranks, following in the cleat marks of such past West standouts as Scott Podsednik and Garrett Mattlage.

“Definitely, playing pro ball has been my dream for a long time,” Carpenter said. “Hopefully it works out (this summer), but if not I’ll be back here at OU next year and give it another shot next year.”

Beckham expects Carpenter to make it, just based on sheer desire.

“He’s a baseball player, and when he gets drafted that what he’ll drafted as, is a baseball player. He’ll play wherever they put him,” Beckham said. “Who knows when that will happen, but it seems like it’ll happen one day.”

Other Trib honors

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle won the Trib’s Coach of the Year honor after directing the Frogs to their first Big 12 title in their third season in the league. TCU was remarkably consistent throughout the year, fashioning a 43-9 regular-season record and an 18-5 mark in the conference. The Frogs closed the regular season on a nine-game winning streak.

The well-rounded Frogs led the Big 12 in team ERA, fielding percentage and batting average. The Big 12 coaching award is the first for Schlossnagle, who was a seven-time Coach of the Year honoree in the Mountain West.

Oklahoma State’s dominant Michael Freeman mowed down batters on his way to the Pitcher of the Year superlative. He was named the Big 12’s pitcher of the week four times during the year, and was especially stingy in Big 12 play, going 5-2 with a 0.80 ERA. The 6-foot-8 southpaw has 92 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings on the year.

TCU designated hitter Connor Wanhanen claimed the Freshman of the Year honor, hitting .364 in Big 12 action, while Kansas pitcher Ben Krauth was picked as Newcomer of the Year. Krauth, a transfer from Diablo Valley (Calif.) College, led the Big 12 in strikeouts in conference games (54) and finished the year with a 7-5 record and 3.65 ERA in 91 1/3 innings.


2015 TRIBUNE-HERALD ALL-BIG 12 BASEBALL TEAM

Player of the Year: Kolbey Carpenter, 2B/1B, Oklahoma
Pitcher of the Year: Michael Freeman, LHP, Oklahoma State
Coach of the Year: Jim Schlossnagle, TCU
Freshman of the Year: Connor Wanhanen, DH, TCU
Newcomer of the Year: Ben Krauth, P, Kansas

First Team

PosPlayerClSchoolAvgHRRBIsNotable
CGage GreenSrOklahoma St..28552918 steals
1BEric GutierrezJrTexas Tech.31544639 walks
2BKolbey CarpenterJrOklahoma.361837.538 slug.
SSSheldon NeuseSoOklahoma.27964310 steals
3BKevin BradleySoOklahoma St..27932217 walks
DHConnor WanhanenFrTCU.339031.418 OBP
OFCody JonesSrTCU.37643025 steals
OFStephen SmithSoTexas Tech.29110320 errors
OFBen JohnsonJrTexas.34553116 steals
UTTaylor MundenSrWest Virginia.266113111 steals
PosPlayerClSchoolW-LERAKsNotable
SPMichael FreemanSrOklahoma St.10-21.0592.183 OBA
SPPreston MorrisonSrTCU11-22.63712 CG
SPCameron SmithSrTexas Tech6-52.83771 save
SPAlex YoungJrTCU9-22.05772 SO
RPRiley FerrellJrTCU1-20.674214 saves

Second Team

PosPlayerClSchoolAvgHRRBIsNotable
CMichael TinsleySoKansas.33733915 2Bs
1BAnthony HermelynSoOklahoma.32264912 2Bs
2BTim ArakawaSrOklahoma St..30113546 runs
SSDonnie WaltonSrOklahoma St..336428.513 slug.
3BDerek OdellSrTCU.280329106 ASTs
DHKyle DavisFrWest Virginia.353431.491 slug.
OFRyan SluderSoOklahoma St..31762235 runs
OFLogan BrownSrBaylor.29312021 steals
OFTyler NeslonyJrTexas Tech.286635.460 slug.
UTTres BarreraSoTexas.291829.482 slug.
PosPlayerClSchoolW-LERAKsNotable
SPRoss VanceJrWest Virginia7-53.26811 SO
SPMitchell TraverSoTCU7-21.8960.190 OBA
SPParker FrenchSrTexas4-32.255421 BBs
RPJacob EvansJrOklahoma6-11.67538 saves
RPDominic MorenoSrTexas Tech3-31.85737 saves
* Statistics through Friday's games
— Compiled by sports editor Brice Cherry

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