Lewis-Clark State College
2001 Baseball Season Outlook
Entering his 25th season at Lewis-Clark State College, Warrior coach Ed Cheff believes this program could produce a 12th NAIA National Championship team. "We have an outstanding nucleus of returnees on the pitching staff and our recruiting efforts exceeded expectations with the number and quality of the pitchers coming in," said Cheff. "One of the keys to winning a tough, 10-team, national tournament is the quality and depth of the pitching staff and we will be okay in that regard."
Only two position starters return, second baseman Kurt Koshelnik and NAIA First-Team All-America first baseman Trevor Brown, yet Cheff doesnt see that as a problem. "Brown and Koshelnik have great character and know how to play," said Cheff. "They will set a standard for the new guys." The program also has a number of returnees that are eager to be everyday players, notably catcher Gabe Boruff and shortstop Yoshi Kimura. Boruff had some tough shoulder injuries in his two years at Lewis-Clark State, but is still rated a top pro prospect by the staff.
Several promising freshmen and some proven junior college transfers were impressive during the Fall season. The biggest questions appear to be who will play centerfield and shortstop.
The Warriors are typically deep and talented behind the plate and next season will be business as usual with a lot of competition for the starting job. Boruff could have the inside track if he is healthy. Brown will see time at both first base and behind the plate. One of college baseballs better hitters last year, Brown has shown continued improvement as a catcher, a position he played at Lane Community College. Junior College transfers Gabe Stajduhar and Dave Preston will also push for playing time behind the plate. Stajduhars bat could put him in the lineup as either a third or first baseman. Preston is also a quality hitter.
Freshman catcher Tyler Best has tremendous potential. Best is a tough, smart, left-handed hitter, who Cheff may decide to red-shirt, due to the number of upper upperclassmen.
Half of last years infield, the right side, return. Brown and Koshelnik played first and second base, respectively. However, Brown is being given a shot at catching, this year, and Koshelnik could move to shortstop or centerfield, depending upon the talent available to fill these positions. He has shown flashes as being extremely talented defensively.
Senior Brandon OLeary started at third base as a freshman and then experienced two injury plagued seasons. He is a key offensive performer and his presence hitting next to Brown in the lineup will be a big factor for the Warrior offense.
Freshmen Micah Furtado, Emerson Frostad, and Brendan Ryan will push several junior college recruits for infield playing time. Ryan can play anywhere in the infield and demonstrated some hitting prowess in the Fall. Two JUCO transfers Jay Knowlton and Mike Madrid will vie for playing time at first base. Knowlton is a legitimate candidate as a starter at first, but he can also fill in at second or third base. Senior Ryan Smith saw limited time at first base, but plays with great enthusiasm. Junior Nick Walker is making the transition to third after being a middle infielder at Tacoma Community College. Sophomore Tom Fazio saw some time as a designated hitter, two years ago, then missed last season due to injuries. He is still battling knee and shoulder problems. Oral Roberts University-transfer, Clare Langford, could see playing time in the middle infield, so long as he is consistent in his performance at the plate. Freshman Oscar Vargas will add needed depth to the middle infield.
Senior Matt Hellman returns as the only starting outfielder from a year ago. Hellman is a corner outfielder with average tools, but has a competitive approach to playing. Centerfield is a big question for the Lewis-Clark State staff. Koshelnik could play centerfield at the same level as the graduated Jason Ellison did last year, while earning the NAIA Defensive Player-of-the-Year award. However, Koshelnik is also the teams best middle infielder, which creates some debate as to where he will play. Transfers Nick Bullen and Ricky Osuna could play in center, with Osuna being the better defensive player, but lacking the offensive potential of Bullen. If Bullen can hit the way he is expected to by the coaching staff, he will see plenty of time in the outfield. Nick Browne had an outstanding year at Los Angeles Pierce College and earned All-America honors. Browne has the strongest arm on the club, runs a 6.9-60, and is a switch-hitter with some power. Freshman Ryan Marquardt missed all of the Fall season, and will look to get back into playing condition as the season progresses.
Seth Haselhuhn, Doug Gonzales, and returnee Ben Johnston are capable offensive players, but need to improve defensively to play everyday. Haselhuhn and Johnston are the leading candidates to be the Warriors lefthanded designated hitter.
Senior Wes Hutchison returns after earning the 2000 NAIA College World Series Most Valuable Player award. He posted three outstanding relief appearances in the tournament, including two shutout innings in the championship game. Hutchison could see more time as a starter, this year, depending upon the needs of the staff. Nic Puckett is coming off of an outstanding freshman season (8-0, 2.32 earned run average) and should be in the starting rotation. Right-handed pitcher Chris Mabeus was 11-0 with a 3.05 ERA as L-Cs top starter. Coach Cheff views him as an excellent pro prospect. Mike Chavez (6-1, 5.10), a left-handed pitcher, has improved significantly, and will be another tough starter in the Warriors arsenal of pitchers. Junior Ryan Heitmanns consistency and ability to command four pitches will give him the role of middle reliever. If senior Jake Kor can stay healthy, he will be a significant contributor, probably out of the bullpen.
The top newcomers in the Fall were right-handers Junior Avina and Collin Perschon. Avina is a transfer from Los Angeles Pierce College and Perschon, a 13th round draft pick by the New York Mets out of Bellevue (WA) Community College, turned down a sizable signing bonus to stay in school. He has the arm strength to pitch in the low to mid-90s on a consistent basis.
Several junior college transfers bring quality depth to the pitching staff. Ricky Bostick, Brian Escott, Norimasa Miyaguni, Ben Royce, Nick Gravelle, and John Sutherland all pitched well in the Fall. J.R. Crider, a talented righty from Phoenix College and Liam Keyte, a freshman from Australia, are coming off of knee surgeries, but will be ready to play as the season gets underway.
A pair of freshmen left-handers, Ben Newton and Corey Stone are capable of contributing quality innings. Red-shirt freshman Taylor Skidmore is another southpaw with some promise. Freshman Deren Martinez will red-shirt this year.
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Page Manager: John Jordan
Revised: January 22, 1999