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Friday, June 13, 2003

Wheeler honored as Jayhawks’ MVP

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Pitcher-designated hitter Kevin Wheeler earned the Gib Francis Award for being the most valuable player on Kansas University's baseball team.

Wheeler, a senior from Omaha, Neb., won six games on the mound and hit .319 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs. He earned second-team All-Big 12 Conference honors.

Shortstop Ritchie Price, freshman son of KU head coach Ritch Price, was named the club's top rookie. The switch-hitter batted .319 and led the Jayhawks in assists. Price was also selected as the team's top defensive player.

Left-hander Ryan Knippschild, a transfer from American River CC, was named pitcher of the year after compiling an 8-6 record in a team-leading 1131/3 innings.

Left fielder Casey Spanish was tapped as most improved. The senior from Savage, Minn., led KU in four categories -- batting average (.383), triples (7), runs (58) and home runs (12). He was a second-team All-Big 12 selection and was chosen in the 12th round of baseball's draft by the Atlanta Braves. However, Spanish plans to return to school this fall rather than play pro baseball.

Catcher Sean Flynn was named newcomer of the year. Flynn started 50 games behind the plate, hitting .275, after transferring from UT-Pan American. Junior first baseman Ryan Baty, who led the team with 57 RBI, earned the Big Stick Award. Junior Brandon Johnson, a Lawrence native, was named relief pitcher of the year.

The hustle award went to freshman second baseman Matt Baty. Infielder Brandon Shepard earned the coaches award while the student-athlete award was shared by infielder Dan Stucky and pitcher Chris Jones.

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