Jan. 30, 2015
Contact: Nathan Webber
Wildcats Voted to Dethrone Wolves in Preseason Poll
Great Northwest Coaches Poll
1. Central Washington (3)
17-14, 31-18, 2nd
2. Western Oregon (1)
22-10, 30-21, 1st
3. Saint Martin’s (1)
14-17, 18-30, 3
4. Northwest Nazarene
13-19, 18-31, t-4th
5. Montana State Billings
13-19, 16-30, t-4th
(Note: First-place votes in parentheses. Points awarded on a
First-team all-GNAC starting pitcher Eric Huson, who was one
of only two conference pitchers to have an ERA south of
three, is back for WOU. He finished the 2014 GNAC season in
the top five in wins, shutouts and opposing batting average
while striking out 40 batters.
PORTLAND, Ore. – After spending 13 straight seasons as
regular season champions, Western Oregon was voted to be
unseated this year by the same team that beat them in the
conference tournament a year ago, Central Washington.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Wolves return four allGNAC selections from a year ago. Three are retuning
infielders in first baseman Nathan Etheridge, third baseman
Garret Harpole and shortstop Austin Hamilton while
outfielder Matt Taylor led the group in batting average last
season at .333.
The 2014 tournament champions narrowly edged the regular
season champions in the coaches preseason poll, receiving
one more vote.
Saint Martin’s returns 21 players from last year’s tournament
team in GNAC Coach of the Year Ken Garland’s seventh
Central Washington also received three of the five total firstplace votes while the other two GNAC tournament teams
from a year ago, Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s,
received the other two first-place votes.
Catcher Chandler Tracy, a GNAC first-team selection, is back
behind the plate sending signs to senior pitchers Zach Carter
and Josh Moss. These two pitchers combined for a 4.55 ERA
in nine wins, striking out 84 batters along the way.
The Saints 15 points put them in the same position they
ended in 2014, in third. Northwest Nazarene and Montana
State Billings rounded out the poll in a close race for fourth
and fifth respectively.
The GNAC’s top designated hitter, Travis Shaw, also returns
for his senior season with the Saints after batting .322 in 46
Central Washington, which led the GNAC in batting average,
runs, ERA and saves in 2014 after a 31-18 campaign, is
returning a few of the best players in the conference.
Head coach Desi Storey, coming off his 500th win in last
season’s GNAC tournament, has his ace back on the mound in
GNAC Pitcher of the Year Brandon Williams. The righty, along
with second baseman/designated hitter Kasey Bielec, was
named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
West Region first-team Friday.
Closer Corey Welch, also the Wildcats all-purpose utility
player and the GNAC Newcomer of the Year, is also back and
looking to improve upon his conference-leading 11 saves in
Western Oregon’s Kellen Walker is in for his third full season
looking to win his third straight regular season championship
and the Wolves 14th straight.
Second-year Northwest Nazarene coach Rocke Musgraves is
looking to improve a team that nearly went to the GNAC
tournament in his first season with the club.
Returnees from that team include three of the team’s top
four hitters in Kyle Thomson, Tate Glasgow and Ryan
Johnson. Thomson and Glasgow were two of the three Saints
hitters batting over .300 while Johnson led the team with 11
doubles after not grounding into a double-play in 136 at-bats.
Catcher Andrew Helmstadter is also returning after posting a
.983 fielding percentage and 216 putouts.
Montana State Billings, led by fifth year coach Rob Bishop,
returns a potent offense that finished first or second in the
conference in batting average, on-base percentage and extrabase hits with 135.
Last season’s Player of the Year, Brody Miller, returns after
leading the conference in hits, doubles, on-base percentage
and walks. The honorable mention all-American was also