NAIA West: 2020 Season Preview

 

ubc

University of British Columbia – Vancouver, BC

Head Coach: Chris Pritchett (4th year)
Assistants: Wayne Corness, Sammie Starr, Tyler Enns
Affiliation: NAIA
Conference: NAIA West (Cascade Collegiate Conference)
Website: http://www.gothunderbirds.ca/
2019 Record: 30-22, 22-9 (2nd in conference)
2020 Opening Day: February 8th vs. Concordia in Portland, OR
2020 League Opener: February 21st vs. Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, ID
Top Newcomers:
Cam Sanderson, RJR, SS
Adam Maier, FR, RHP
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Pritchett, in his 4th year and with 101 wins under his belt already, begins the 2020 season with a full team of his own recruited players. His young recruits have developed under his watch and should contend for the NAIA West Championships. UBC is one of a few schools whose fall games count towards their overall record. They played one game that counted in October, losing to Oregon State. In August, they also hosted an exhibition tournament The UBC Collegiate Baseball Classic that included University of Tokyo, Keio University, and Sacramento State.
UBC finished one game back from Lewis-Clark State in last year’s conference standings. Many solid producers return to compete again in 2020. OF/1B Jaxon Valcke returns after leading the Thunderbirds in hitting (.290), doubles (2nd in league), and RBIs (5th in league). All-Conference third baseman Nolan Weger is expected to be a key middle of the order presence. First baseman Ty Penner started 48 games last year and is back. UBC was first in team pitching and defense in 2019. Two All-Conference pitchers Garrett Hawkins and Barry Caine were leaders on the mound; Hawkins won 5 games in 77 innings, 13 starts, with a 3.62 ERA (8th in league), while batters hit only .214 against him (4th in league). Caine was second in the league out of the bullpen in 2019 with a 3.00 ERA with 5 wins/4 saves in 23 appearances (1st in conference); Batters hit only .174 against him last year. Two other starting candidates are James Bradwell, who won 5 games in 5 starts last year with a 3.62 ERA, and LHP Finnigan Duffield whose big upside could be a key to the UBC title run. Freshman RHP Adam Maier is expected to contend for key innings as a noted top newcomer. Shortstop Cam Sanderson should have big impact offensively and defensively after missing last year with an injury.
Duffeild, Valcke, and Bradwell have received professional scout interest. Since 1999, the Thunderbirds have had 23 players drafted in the Major League Draft which ranks them 3rd overall among all NAIA programs. LHP Niall Windeler from the 2019 Thunderbirds joins fellow pitcher Curtis Taylor, and first basemen Bruce Yari competing for ML organizations in 2019. Jeff Francis is UBC’s former major league pitcher.
Pritchard took over the program from Terry Mckaig who continued as Director of UBC Baseball and who was recently acknowledged as #21 on the Canadian Baseball Network’s Top 100 Most Influential Canadians in Baseball list.
The Thunderbirds will stay in the Northwest for their spring 2020 debut at Concordia for 3 games February 8-9. Road non-conference games in Mesa, AZ. vs Benedictine-Mesa College and a mid-spring visit to Lawrenceville, GA for match ups with Indiana Tech and Georgia-Gwinnett highlight the schedule. The key conference series is the league opener at LC State on February 21st. Go Thunderbirds!
UBC Alumni currently playing professionally:
Niall Windeler, GCL Twins, Rookie, Minnesota Twins, drafted in 2019
Curtis Taylor, Toronto Blue Jays organization, Double A, drafted in 2016
Bruce Yari, Daytona Tartugas, Class A Advanced, Cincinnati Reds, drafted in 2016

lc state

Lewis-Clark State College – Lewiston, ID

Head Coach: Jake Taylor (2nd year)
Assistants: Allen Balmer, Billy Silvestri, Anthony Balderas
Affiliation: NAIA
Conference: NAIA West (Cascade Collegiate Conference)
Website: http://www.lcwarriors.com/
2019 Record: 35-14-1 overall; 24-8 (1st in conference)
2020 Opening Day: January 28th vs. William Jessup in Rocklin, CA
2020 League Opener: February 21st vs. University of British Columbia in Lewiston, ID
Top Newcomers:
Aidan Nagle, JR, OF, Cuesta CC
Dalton Harum, SR, OF, Virginia Tech
Jack Johnson, SR, INF, University of Washington
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Another conference championship and a 35-win season was a good beginning for Coach Taylor’s first year leading the Warriors, though two losses in the first three games of the NAIA World Series was disappointing for the most successful small college program in the country. Lewis-Clark State has won three of the last five National Championships and nineteen overall. Taylor was a member of the 1992 title team and brings a strong high school coaching resume to the college ranks by winning five conference championships and two state championships at Borah HS (ID). 11-year Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Allan Balmer has been a contributor to 5 national titles-two as a player and three as a coach. He was MVP of the 2006 National Tournament. The conference coaches’ poll picks the Warriors again to the top spot for 2020; the NAIA coaches’ national poll has them #19. The offense slipped some last year to #2 in the conference in team batting average but they still led in most offensive categories. This year’s hitting production looks to be built around returning infielders AJ Davis, Zach Needham, and Riley Way. Davis, a Clarkston, WA native, hit .326 and led the team in runs and on base percentage. He earned an 2019 NAIA West All- Conference nod at shortstop and was selected to the 2019 NAIA All-World Series team. Way, a BBNW alumni, was the 2018 NAIA West Gold Glove second baseman and was also named to the 2019 NAIA All-World Series team. These two local boys form an effective double play combination for LC State. Edmonds CC 2019 transfer Zach Needham will provide power for the 2020 Warriors, coming off a 10-home run season and a 2019 NAIA All-World Series team selection. Zach was 5th in the league in total bases and was drafted by the Mariners in the 2017 MLB draft. Hawaii native Brock Ephan returns to the Warriors after redshirting in 2019. The 1B/DH candidate hit .303 with six home runs in 2017. The run production is expected to be boosted by newcomers Nagle, the Virginia Summer League MVP; Virginia Tech transfer Harum; and BBNW alum Jack Johnson who can play multiple positions. Dillon Plew from Washington State should be a strong corner bat; he was drafted in the 40th round in 2019 by the Houston Astros. RHP Matt Driver has the stuff to be a rotation force for LC, who led the conference in pitching a year ago.
The LC State program has produced 81 players since 1999 that were drafted in the MLB draft. That mark leads all NAIA schools. Needham, Way, Davis, Driver, Ephan, and Johnson have a chance to add to the total in this year’s draft. Nine former Warriors finished the 2019 season in a major-league organization.
January 28th marks the date of the Warriors 2020 season debut in Rocklin, CA. vs William Jessup University, followed by a trip to Phoenix, AZ on the 30th. The first home series at Harris Field in Lewiston has D2 Western Oregon coming to town February 7-9. Other non-conference match ups on the road with D2 Concordia University and D1 Seattle University highlight the schedule. LC State will again host the NAIA National Championship Tournament May 22-29. The current contract has them hosting thru 2024 but the agreement will require the Warriors to win in the NAIA Opening Round Tournament in 2022 to receive a bid. Go Warriors!
Lewis-Clark State College Alumni currently playing professionally:
Seth Brown North Medford HS (OR), Oakland A’s, drafted in 2015, MLB debut 8/26/19 
Blaine Hardy Edmonds-Woodway HS (WA), Detroit Tigers, drafted in 2008, MLB debut 6/16/2014, BBNW alumni
Seaver Whalen Union HS (WA), Bowling Green Hot Rods, Class A, Tampa Bay Rays, drafted in 2017, BBNW alumni
Gage Burland East Valley HS (WA), Vancouver Canadians, Class A Short Season, Toronto Blue Jays, drafted in 2018, BBNW alumni
Connor Brogdon Liberty HS (CA), Non-roster Invitee in Philadelphia Phillies organization, drafted in 2017
Jacob Zanon Southridge HS (OR), Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Double A, New York Mets, drafted in 2018
Cooper Golby Yuba City HS (CA), Midland Rockhounds, Double A, Oakland Athletics, drafted in 2017
Micah Brown North Medford HS (OR), Jupiter Hammerheads, Class A Advanced, Miami Marlins, drafted in 2017
Tyler Burch Eastmont HS (WA), Williamsports Crosscutters, Class A Short Season, Philadelphia Phillies, drafted in 2019 
Top Prospects previously ranked by BBNW: Oregon Class of 2018 #8 Greg Blackman, Washington Class of 2016: #23 Dillon Plew
BBNW Alumni on 2020 Roster: 12

yotes logo

College of Idaho – Caldwell, ID

Head Coach: Shawn Humberger (20th year)
Assistants: Brian Schweiger, Todd Barsanti, Steve Luby
Affiliation: NAIA
Conference: Cascade Collegiate Conference (NAIA West)
Website: http://yoteathletics.com/
2019 Record: 16-35 overall; 10-22  (4th in conference)
2020 Opening Day: J
anuary 23rd vs. Taylor in Chandler, AZ
2020 League Opener: February 22nd vs. Corban in Salem, OR
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
The 2020 season will be the 20th for Shawn Humberger as the head coach of the Coyotes. He has guided one of the top small college programs in the Northwest to 576 wins, which includes making the post-season 16 of the last 19 seasons and 5 appearances in the NAIA World Series.
The 2020 season presents a turnaround opportunity as C of I has had its two lowest win seasons in history in 2018 and 2019. Big roster adjustments have resulted in 25 new players—20 incoming recruits and five red-shirts—who will join the 11 returners. The remake will begin with pitching where the Coyotes lost nearly ¾ of their innings to graduation. Three BBNW alumni are included in a group of five strong starting rotation candidates: sophomore returner Connor Root, who led the team last year with four wins in 47 innings, and newcomers Dimick Wood, an Idaho native and transfer from Walla Walla CC, and freshman LHP Luke Brewer from Camas HS in Washington.  Two transfers, Canadian Andrew Vaughn from Folsom Lake CC and Ben Tighe from Williston State CC, are expected to pitch a lot of key innings. Two-way player Austin Van Horne, a BBNW top prospect for the Idaho class of 2016, proved he can handle the backend of the bullpen, coming off an effective 2019 with three wins, one save, 3.79 ERA, and 43 strike-outs in 35 innings. Sophomore right-handers Silas Shumate and Jared Bowman will add bullpen depth; Knox College transfer Andrew Kirchmeier and Oklahoma Christian transfer Nick Kindred will look for bullpen roles also. Three Idaho freshmen—Cole Valley Christian’s Micah Ferguson, Vallivue’s Chase Carpenter, and Timberline’s John Duffy will also add bullpen depth. Two other in-state arms are Peyton Richardson and Harrison Neidermyer who are coming off injuries in 2019.
The offense is looking to be much improved from an unusual last place in the league in runs scored a year ago. Three BBNW alumni will get most of the catching time including freshmen Jonah Hultberg and Tanner McGrathWeston Miller got time catching and in the outfield in 2019. Van Horne and sophomore BBNW alum Alec Hopkins will get most of the playing time on the left side of the infield. Van Horne, one of the conference’s top players, saw action at five different positions last season while leading C of I in most offensive categories; he is also a Caldwell native. Other infield candidates include College of Southern Idaho transfer Ryan Nolan and freshman BBNW alumni Caden Leiblein. Two other freshmen infielders from the Northwest, Jake Dension and Ben Hansen, will compete for playing time. Californian Carter Vieira brings some infield and offensive experience with 10 RBIs and 10 stolen bases last year; BBNW alum Gerardo Madera from Caldwell will also provide infield depth. Drew Ochsner heads a solid and large group of first base candidates including transfers Anthony Pannullo and Ben Dudley and freshman Tobey Summers. Senior everyday center fielder Mathew Clay, who hit .330 over a year ago, leads the outfield group. Junior Nick Mooney (team leading 14 stolen bases) and sophomore Caden Jensen split time in left field a year ago. Another Idaho native and BBNW alumni Avery Rambur looks to develop and push for playing time.
The C of I 2020 roster has 19 native Gem state players. The newly finished Wolfe Field, the home of Coyote baseball, is the first artificial turf field in Idaho. It is a partnership with the College of Idaho and the city of Caldwell.
The Coyotes are the first Northwest college to open the 2020 season with a doubleheader vs. Taylor College in Chandler, Arizona on January 23rd. An early home opener and the first college game in the Northwest is January 31st in Caldwell vs. William Jessup University.  Key conference series begin February 28th at Lewis-Clark State, and at University of British Columbia starting March 20th.
College of Idaho Alumni currently playing professionally:
Zach Draper, Lake County Captains, Class A (Cleveland Indians), 2017
Riley O’Brien, Montgomery Biscuits, Double A (Tampa Bay Rays), 2017
Top Prospects previously ranked by BBNW:
Class of 2016 Idaho/Montana:
#5 Austin Van Horne
Class of 2020 BBNW Alumni committed to C of I: Hunter Kirkpatrick
BBNW Alumni on Roster:
14

corban c

Corban University – Salem, OR

Head Coach: Derek Legg (3rd year)
Assistants: Caleb Virtue, Jacob Kopra, Ethan Bragg, Jackson Smith, Dave Legg, Drew Loera, Daniel Freiburger, Connor Cole
Affiliation: NAIA
Conference: Cascade Collegiate Conference (NAIA West)
Website: https://corbanwarriors.com
2019 Record: 18-31-1 overall; 16-15 (3rd in conference)
2020 Opening Day: January 24th vs. William Jessup in Rocklin, CA
2020 League Opener: February 22nd vs. College of Idaho in Salem, OR
Top Newcomers:
Mason Shaw, JR, RHP, Yakima Valley CC
Hector Sepulveda, JR, RHP, Yakima Valley CC
Tylor Nixon, JR, INF, Virginia Commonwealth University
Zach Campbell, SO, OF, Canada College
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Legg begins his 3rd year at the helm of the Warriors with back to back 3rd place conference regular season finishes and back to back 5th place finishes in the conference tournament. The former Corban player and top assistant coach has 11 seniors and 12 juniors on the roster. This includes a good balance of returning production offensively, defensively, and pitching. The Dominican-born Estenio Sede gave Corban a huge lift at the end of the 2019 season, hitting .340 in 50 at-bats and providing consistency at shortstop; he also drew some professional notice. BBNW alumni senior outfielders Josh Ebert and Jared Bell have a history of getting on base and impacting the game while on the bases. Ebert led the conference in stolen bases (16-17) last year and is fifteen away from being Corban’s career leader. He is also a NAIA scholar athlete. Bell (11 steals) was selected to the All-Conference team in 2019. Another returning BBNW alumni and All-Conference selection is Maxwell Jeffrey who has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order force, providing defensive utility value. He led the Warriors in hitting (.277) last year. Junior BBNW alum Dakota Fingar is hoping to stay healthy and contribute to Corban’s success in 2020, after being injured much of the last 2 years. Corban will rely on sophomore Zack Simon to provide a lot of innings on the mound in 2020 (10 starts in 2019), as well as at the plate. Senior Zachary Filos won 5 games and led the pitching staff in innings (81) a year ago, producing a solid 3.09 ERA. Jacob Bowser and Jacob Asa are proven bullpen pieces. Bowser is second in Corban career ERA and Asa has received some professional scout interest. Two Yakima Valley CC transfers Mason Shaw and Arizona-bred Hector Sepulveda are expected to be effective newcomers. Infielder Tylor Nixon, the Idaho/Montana class of 2017 #6 ranked player by BBNW, transfers in from Virginia Commonwealth University to add much needed depth to the infield. Improving on a 4th place finish in team pitching and 5th place in team defense will go along way for the Warriors’ success in 2020.
The College of Idaho comes to Salem for the conference series opener on February 22nd, followed by a key home league series vs. University of British Columbia. The key road conference series is at Lewis-Clark State beginning March 14th. Go Warriors!
http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=682110
Corban Alumni currently playing professionally: Kris Jackson, Lowell Spinners, Class A Short Season (Boston Red Sox), 2018
Top Prospects previously ranked by BBNW:
 Class of 2017 Idaho/Montana: #6 Tylor Nixon
Class of 2020 BBNW Alumni committed to Corban: KC Pettibone,  Jayden BunchOwen Brown
BBNW Alumni on Roster:
17

oit logo
Oregon Institute of Technology – Klamath Falls, OR

Head Coach: Matt Miles (13th year)
Assistants: Phillip Ouellette
Affiliation: NAIA
Conference: Cascade Collegiate Conference (NAIA West)
Website: http://oregontechowls.com/
2019 Record: 13-37 overall, 7-25 (5th in conference)
2020 Opening Day: January 25th vs. Menlo College in Redding, CA
2020 League Opener: February 29th vs. University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC
Top Newcomers:
Josh Overstreet, SR, P/INF, Montana State-Billings
John Barry, FR, P, Reno HS (NV)
Josiah Peterson, JR, INF, Los Medanos CC (CA)
Payton Harris, JR, OF, Skagit Valley CC
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Miles is the winningest coach in OIT history as he begins his 13th season at the helm of the 57 year-old college baseball program. Miles has deep Klamath Falls roots having played and been the head coach at Klamath Falls HS, as well as an All-Conference player at OIT.
Despite the 5th place conference finish in 2019, the Owls led the conference in hitting last year. Micah Jio was a huge part of that as the conference leader in batting average, total bases, hits, and extra base hits. The Hawaii native also led OIT in nearly every offensive category in 2019. Two juniors Michael Tarakhchyan .(247), and Nevan Watanabe (.277) along with sophomore Alex Malcolm (.251) provided some backup production last year and are hoping to build on that experience in 2020. Senior catcher Emmett Covello had 26 starts in 2019 with a . 983 fielding percentage. JC transfer shortstop Josiah Peterson (Los Medanos CC) and right fielder Payton Harris (Skagit Valley CC) are expected to be key offensive and defensive contributors.
Local native Josh Overstreet returns to his hometown from Montana State-Billings where he made a big impact in the starting rotation and as a run-producing first baseman. He looks to do the same for the Owls. Telesmanich will move to the starting rotation from the bullpen for 2020. The Gladstone HS product will be bouncing back from a subpar 2019 after being the All-Region closer in 2018 with a school record 9 saves and average 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. He is an CCC Scholar Athlete. LHP John Barry, a freshman from Reno, NV also looks to have earned a spot in the starting rotation. Returning starting pitcher Zach Scherman is also a strong candidate producing a 4.85 ERA in 59 innings in 9 starts. His ERA was second on the team a year ago. Seniors Jax Evenhus and Josh Davis will need to stabilize the bullpen.
The Owls begin the season with single games vs. Menlo College and Simpson University in Redding, CA. on January 25th. They will play their first 30 games on the road (the first 18 in California) including their first 12 conference games. The home opener at Kiger Stadium is March 21st vs. Corban University.  The 2019 team GPA of 3.24 was an impressive 12th nationally of the 188 NAIA teams. Go Owls!
BBNW Alumni on 2020 Roster:
10

These season previews were compiled by Jeff McKay, Josh Warner, and Annie Warner. 

Look for upcoming conferences posted soon:
GNAC (NCAA Division II), beginning Thursday, January 23rd
Northwest Conference (NCAA Division III), beginning Saturday, February 1st
NCAA Division I, beginning Friday, February 7th
NWAC Week, beginning Monday, February 17th