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Baylor's Branch, Castle earn All-Big 12 honors for 2023 baseball season

The Bears' season may be over, but the awards are just starting to roll in for some of their young core.

IRVING, Texas — After a frustrating 2023 season, two Baylor baseball players received All-Big 12 honors on Tuesday, May 23.

The Big 12 released its All-Big 12 baseball awards, ahead of the start of the 2023 Big 12 Baseball Tournament, with Baylor's Cortlan Castle and Kolby Branch on the list.

Branch, a true-freshman infielder from Lucas, Texas, was unanimously named to the league's All-Freshman team after leading the Bears in batting average (.325), OPS (.939), games played (55), games started (55), at bats (212), runs scored (49), hits (69), doubles (17), RBI (41), total bases (108), slugging percentage (.509), walks drawn (39), on-base percentage (.430), stolen bases and stolen base attempts (7-10).

Branch also tied for the team lead in triples (2) and home runs (6). He's the first All-Freshman selection from Baylor since Chase Wehsener in 2019.

Castle was named Honorable Mention All-Big 12, the lone representative for the Bears on the team. 

Castle started 30 of the 40 games he played in for BU in the 2023 season, finishing 3rd on the team in batting average (.299) and sixth in hits (35) while boasting a .978 fielding percentage. The catcher from Midway High School outside of Waco started 12 games in 16 appearances during his freshman season in 2022, as well.

West Virginia's JJ Wetherholt was named Big 12 Player of the Year while Texas' Lucas Gordon earned Pitcher of the Year.

Oklahoma State's Nolan Schubart and Kansas' Kodey Shojinaga split Freshmen of the Year honors while the Cowboys' Tyler Wulfert claimed Newcomer of the Year honors and WVU's Randy Mazey was named the conference's Coach of the Year, to no surprise.

All-Big 12 First Team

  • C: Garret Guillemette, Texas
  • IF: Roc Riggio, Oklahoma State
  • IF: Brayden Taylor, TCU
  • IF: Gavin Kash, Texas Tech*
  • IF: Kevin Bazzell, Texas Tech
  • IF: JJ Wetherholt, West Virginia*
  • OF: Nolan Schubart, Oklahoma State
  • OF: Porter Brown, Texas*
  • OF: Dylan Campbell, Texas
  • DH: Janson Reeder, Kansas
  • UT: Carson Benge, Oklahoma State
  • SP: Braden Carmichael, Oklahoma
  • SP: Lucas Gordon, Texas*
  • SP: Lebarron Johnson Jr., Texas
  • SP: Ben Hampton, West Virginia
  • RP: Tyson Neighbors, Kansas State
  • RP: Carlson Reed, West Virginia
    *- unanimous selection 

All-Big 12 Second Team

  • C: Chase Adkison, Oklahoma State
  • IF: Cole Elvis, Kansas
  • IF: Kodey Shojinaga, Kansas
  • IF: Tyler Wulfert, Oklahoma State
  • IF: Anthony Silva, TCU
  • IF: Peyton Powell, Texas
  • OF: Chase Jans, Kansas
  • OF: Carson Benge, Oklahoma State
  • OF: Nolen Hester, Texas Tech
  • OF: Landon Wallace, West Virginia
  • OF: Braden Barry, West Virginia
  • DH: Colin Bruegemann, Oklahoma State
  • UT: Nolan McLean, Oklahoma State
  • SP: Collin Baumgartner, Kansas
  • SP: Owen Boerema, Kansas State
  • SP: Mason Molina, Texas Tech
  • SP: Blaine Traxel, West Virginia
  • RP: Isaac Stebens, Oklahoma State
  • RP: Garrett Wright, TCU
    A tie resulted in five outfielders on the second team. 

All-Big 12 Honorable Mention (by school)

  • Baylor: Cortlan Castle
  • Kansas State: Kaelen Culpepper, Brady Day, Nick Goodwin, Brendan Jones, Raphael Pelletier
  • Oklahoma: Dakota Harris, James Hitt, Anthony Mackenzie, Bryce Madron, Kendall Pettis, John Spikerman
  • Oklahoma State: Ben Abram, Nolan McLean (RP), Juaron Watts-Brown
  • TCU: Karson Bowen, Kole Klecker, Cole Fontenelle, Louis Rodriguez
  • Texas: Eric Kennedy, Jared Thomas
  • Texas Tech: Brandon Beckel, Gage Harrelson, Hudson White
  • West Virginia: David Hagaman, Grant Hussey, Dayne Leonard, Aidan Major, Caleb McNeely, Logan Sauve, Tevin Tucker 

All-Freshman Team

  • Kolby Branch, Baylor*
  • Kodey Shojinaga, Kansas*
  • Easton Carmichael, Oklahoma
  • Carson Benge, Oklahoma State*
  • Nolan Schubart, Oklahoma State*
  • Ben Abeldt, TCU
  • Karson Bowen, TCU*
  • Kole Klecker, TCU
  • Anthony Silva, TCU*
  • Jared Thomas, Texas*
  • Kevin Bazzell, Texas Tech*
  • Gage Harrelson, Texas Tech
    *-unanimous selection 

The Bears finished the 2023 season with a 20-35 record, going 6-18 in conference play, missing the Big 12 Conference Tournament for the first time since the league's formation. Oklahoma now remains the lone remaining Big 12 team to participate in every conference tournament.

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